Bill passed to enhance healthcare services regulatory framework
30 March 2023
On 6 March 2023, the Healthcare Services (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”) was passed. The Bill seeks to amend the Healthcare Services Act 2020 (“HCSA”) to:
- introduce an approval framework for service delivery modes and specified services;
- remove the concept of a special licensable healthcare service;
- subject the appointment of Clinical Governance Officers to the approval of the Director-General of Health;
- restrict use of names and terms associated with a speciality by a licensee unless a relevant specialist is employed or engaged by the licensee;
- regulate the advertisement of non-licensable healthcare services under the HCSA;
- impose restrictions on the use of the title “Doctor” in advertisements of healthcare services;
- redesignate “Director of Medical Services” to “Director-General of Health”; and
- make miscellaneous amendments for better administration of the HCSA.
Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health Dr Janil Puthucheary explained the rationale of the Bill in his opening and closing speeches at the second reading of the Bill. He noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to changes in how healthcare is delivered. The amendments provide more clarity and flexibility on the requirements related to new models of care, such as teleconsulting and home medical services, which have proven to be effective and efficient. These amendments continue the protection of patient safety and enable new innovations in providing care. Covid-19 also highlighted the need to adjust the HCSA to allow the Government to respond to public healthcare emergencies more nimbly. This includes instances where licence conditions must be changed immediately to address urgent patient safety or public health issues.
Dr Puthucheary also stated that the Government has noted concerns raised by stakeholders in relation to the regulatory framework on misleading advertisements involving non-licensable healthcare services or business names. The amendments tighten control on advertising and naming to enable the public to make better informed choices about their use of healthcare services and to ensure that consumers and patients are not misinformed or unduly influenced to consume certain healthcare services.
Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health Dr Janil Puthucheary’s opening and closing speeches referenced here are available on the Ministry of Health website www.moh.gov.sg.