MOH planning to update law that governs all Singapore healthcare services

People in a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic.
People in a waiting room at Tampines Polyclinic. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) is planning to update the main piece of legislation that governs all healthcare services in Singapore, which was last amended more than 15 years ago.

This is so that regulations can keep pace with the rapidly changing healthcare environment while still having sufficient safeguards so that patient safety is not compromised.

The current Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act works on the assumption that healthcare services are provided from a physical location, said Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min on Tuesday morning (Oct 25).

"This needs to change given the increasing prevalence of mobile, online and co-located services," he said, speaking at the Scientific Conference of the Centre of Regulatory Excellence.

He added that the Act is currently relatively broad and not differentiated between different types of healthcare institutions. For instance, community hospitals, which tend to focus on rehabilitation, are currently treated the same as acute public hospitals under existing requirements.

"What would be more appropriate is to tier the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act's regulatory requirements according to the type and nature of service," Dr Lam said, adding that MOH would also take the opportunity to strengthen governance systems and improve regulatory clarity.

"By doing so, providers will be more aware as to their responsibilities, and hence be more accountable to patients."

The ministry will start holding focus group discussions with healthcare players starting next month, which will be followed by discussions with patient groups and members of the public.

The ministry will take this feedback into consideration as it revises the existing regulatory framework.