Forum: SMC taking steps to strengthen its processes

We refer to Straits Times senior health correspondent Salma Khalik's commentary (Medical watchdog body needs to move out of slow lane, July 16), and thank Mr Heng Cho Choon (SMC must address complaints expeditiously, July 18) and Mr Danny Quah Wei Sheng (Medical watchdog should learn how legal profession handles complaints, July 18) for their feedback.

Patient safety and well-being are the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) utmost priority.

The SMC continues to strengthen its disciplinary processes and enhance timeliness in the management of complaint cases.

We are taking proactive steps to expedite processing of the backlog of cases that has built up over the years. Once this backlog of older cases is cleared, it is estimated that the average time required for a case to be processed, from start to finish, will be significantly reduced.

For instance, out of all cases concluded by the Complaints Committees in 2018, 12 per cent took under a year to conclude. This rose to 39 per cent last year.

The SMC has also taken interim measures while disciplinary proceedings are ongoing. These include suspensions through Interim Orders for serious cases and undertakings from the doctor to restrict his practice.

Separately, the SMC is also working with the Ministry of Health to implement into legislation proposed changes to the disciplinary process recommended by the Workgroup to Review the Taking of Informed Consent and the Singapore Medical Council's Disciplinary Process. These changes countenance, among other things, measures to streamline and speed up the disciplinary process for medical practitioners.

Peter Lee

Executive Secretary

Singapore Medical Council

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