Committee to review Singapore Medical Council's disciplinary processes report

SINGAPORE - Nearly two years after the High Court lambasted the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) for how it handled a disciplinary hearing, a committee set up to review these processes has released its final report.

Most of the committee's recommendations are aimed at speeding up inquiries and improving legal processes - two areas which had previously been the focus of criticism.

It also suggested changes that would strengthen transparency, especially in the appeals process.

In 2012, the SMC formed its review committee after being castigated by the High Court over the way it handled disciplinary hearings.

The court had overturned a verdict by the SMC's disciplinary tribunal against aesthetic doctor Low Chai Ling, whom the SMC had found guilty of providing treatment with no scientifically proven effectiveness.

Then, the court said it was wrong to retrospectively punish doctors for treatments that were not against guidelines at the time.

In November last year, the committee issued its report to the SMC privately.

Yesterday, the SMC released its 14 recommendations along with the committee's 140-page report.

Of these, eight were accepted. The SMC has already started to implement changes in some of these areas, such as making pre-inquiry conferences mandatory.

This means that any preliminary objections can be dealt with way early, allowing the rest of the hearing to proceed on schedule.

It is also starting to publish an online database of precedents going back to 2008 - including acquittals - in the interest of transparency.

Another three recommendations require legislative changes to be implemented. The SMC is working with the Health Ministry on this.

Lastly, the SMC said that it would further study three recommendations with the intention of possibly implementing them in the future.

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