Why the double standards in specialist recognition, group asks medical council

The Malaysian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons said in Sultan Idris Shah Hospital or Serdang Hospital, over 1,000 patients are waiting their turn for operations. (Wikipedia pic)

PETALING JAYA: An association has questioned the Malaysian Medical Council’s (MMC) apparent double standards in recognising specialists trained at public hospitals under the health ministry.

The Malaysian Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (MATCVS) said while those doing their master’s studies at these hospitals are recognised by MMC for listing in the National Specialists Register (NSR), parallel pathway trainees at the same hospitals are not.

MATCVS secretary John Chan said it was understood that MMC’s refusal to register parallel pathway graduates was based on certain provisions in the Medical Act that do not recognise health ministry hospitals as training centres.

“This is rather odd as almost all master’s clinical training programmes at local universities today are conducted in public hospitals to a certain extent,” he told FMT.

John Chan.

He said the master of surgery course at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, which is fully carried out at local hospitals, was an example of a successful course that had produced many capable general surgeons over the last two decades.

Chan said other key cardiac centres like the National Heart Institute and Universiti Malaya Medical Centre had also sent specialist trainees for the parallel pathway programme.

He said the centres at government-run hospitals had been credentialed by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) for training, confirming the quality of work at such facilities.

“It received the necessary regulatory approval, recognition and full backing from the government in 2014,” he added.

Chan said the six-year parallel pathway programme was quality assured throughout, complete with exit/qualifying examinations run by RCSEd, one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in the world for training surgeons.

He said graduates from the parallel pathway programme were fit to work as cardiothoracic surgeons at public hospitals in dire need of their services, citing the long waiting list for heart surgeries at hospitals.

At Sultan Idris Shah Hospital or Serdang Hospital, over 1,000 patients are waiting their turn for operations, while the list of patients at Penang Hospital is about 850 people long, he said.

“In some cases, patients die while waiting for heart surgery.”

The MMC is currently embroiled in a tussle with parallel pathway specialists and medical genetics graduates over the recognition of their qualifications for the purpose of listing in the NSR.

Chan said the specialist qualification from RCSEd had always been listed in the NSR until 2021, when MMC decided to not recognise it.

MMC president Dr Radzi Abu Hassan, the current health director-general, had also confirmed the establishment of a task force within MMC to urgently study the imbroglio, he added.

“It’s puzzling because specialists from RCSEd have been listed with the same qualifications in the NSR since 2007,” Chan said.

He said despite the British high commissioner declaring that the UK General Medical Council accepts applications from surgeons with the said qualifications for registration as specialists, the MMC still refused to register them as specialists.

“We feel that MMC should explain to the Cabinet and all Malaysians its actual reasons for refusing to support a project so beneficial to the tax-paying people.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *