MOH suspends 10 clinics from Chas scheme for severe non-compliance; case referred to police

Access Medical Family Clinic Bedok South at 59 New Upper Changi Road, one of the 10 clinics suspended from the Chas Scheme by the Ministry of Health. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) has suspended 10 clinics from the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) for severe non-compliance.

The suspension will take place from Oct 23, the MOH said in a statement on Monday (Oct 8).

The clinics, which are all under the Access Medical group, had made numerous non-compliant Chas claims such as claims for patient visits or chronic conditions with no relevant supporting documentation. These were revealed following audits by the MOH on the Chas claims.

The MOH added that the case has been referred to the police, and the ministry will be referring specific doctors involved to the Singapore Medical Council for further investigation.

"MOH takes a serious view of errant practices in making Chas claims," said the statement.

The clinics that have been served the notices of suspension are: Access (Bedok South), Access (Circuit Road), Access (East Coast), Access (Kim Keat), Access (Marine Terrace), Access (Toa Payoh), Access (Whampoa), Access (Jurong West), Access (Redhill Close) and Access (Bukit Batok).

The clinics can continue providing medical treatment while suspended, but the treatment provided will not be covered by Chas subsidies.

MOH director of medical services Benjamin Ong said: "In line with the Singapore Medical Council's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines, doctors cannot abuse the doctor-patient relationship for personal gain. We remind all doctors to act in the best interest of the patient and uphold the highest standards of professionalism."

The MOH encourages Chas patients to actively engage their doctors and dentists if they have any queries on their bills. If they come across any suspicious or unusual Chas claims made for them, they can contact the ministry on 1800-225-4122.

Chas, which provides subsidies for medical and dental care to Singapore citizens from lower- to middle-income households as well as Pioneer Generation members, was introduced in 2012.

There are currently about 1.3 million Singaporeans with a Chas or Pioneer Generation card, and about 1,000 general practitioner (GP) clinics and 700 dental clinics under Chas.

The first case of errant Chas claims was reported by The Straits Times in June 2016, when two dental clinics - Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade - were suspended for making false claims and flouting MOH guidelines. There were claims made for procedures that were not performed. The clinics later closed down.

In May 2017, three GP clinics were investigated for non-compliant Chas claims.

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