SEREMBAN - Doctors may soon have to fork out more to renew their annual practising certificates and attend continuing professional development (CPD) courses.
This will become mandatory once the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) becomes a financially independent professional body following its corporatisation, which is expected as early as next year.
At present, doctors pay only RM50 (S$18.50) to renew their APCs, a sum which has remained the same for almost three decades.
Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran said the fee had to be increased as the council would need funds to operate independently. "We are looking at a fee of RM1 a day or perhaps RM300 a year," he told The Star.
Some 45,000 doctors are registered with the MMC, which currently comes under the Health Ministry's purview. An estimated 5,000 new doctors graduate annually.
The idea to corporatise MMC was mooted in 2010, after which the Medical Act 1971 was amended.
Once corporatised, it will operate as an independent professional body, similar to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants, the Bar Council and the Institute of Engineers Malaysia.
It will also be similar to Britain's General Medical Council, a fee-based registered body which, among others, acts to protect public interests by ensuring compliance with medical standards.
There was a pressing need, said Dr Jeyaindran, for doctors in the private sector to go for CPDs like those in many developed countries.
"With the setting up of the ASEAN Economic Community by year's end, doctors, for example, will face many challenges that will come with the liberalisation of trade and services.
"So, we need our doctors to continuously upgrade their clinical skills and be ahead of their peers elsewhere," he said, adding that it was already compulsory for those in government service to attend such programmes.
Doctors, said Dr Jeyaindran, would also be able to earn credit points by attending these programmes."We want to make it compulsory for all doctors to attend CPDs as they have a moral, ethical and professional responsibility to their patients," he said, adding that it had yet to be determined how many credit points they would need for their APCs to be renewed.
Malaysian Medical Association CPD committee head Datuk Dr P. Krishnan said the corporatisation of MMC was a good move and that doctors had no problems with the higher fees.
"Technology is changing every day. It is a must for doctors to also keep up with the latest developments in their respective fields."
Doctors in the private sector, said Dr Krishnan, would have no problems attending CPDs as there were 372 providers registered with the MMA.
For example, he said doctors attending a medical congress with international speakers would earn 20 credit points.
"Those attending medical workshops can earn up to 10 points while hourly talks would be less," he said, adding that some 9,870 doctors had already registered with the CPD committee.
It is understood that doctors in public service are required to earn 40 credit points annually by attending CPD programmes.