The Independent

Hospital administrators allegedly warn junior doctors that they are replaceable with 3rd world country doctors who are willing to work for $3K per month

Transitioning, a support site for unemployed PMETs, organised a conference on Labour Day where one of the speakers pointed out how the lack of minimum wage in Singapore is even affecting professionals like doctors. Dr Paul Tambyah, a senior consultant at the National University Hospital, speaking in his personal capacity said junior doctors had told him that every time they complain about conditions in public hospitals, the administrators don’t seem perturbed by it.

The public hospital administrators warned the junior doctors who complained that they can be replaced with someone from south or south-east Asia who is willing to work for $3,000 a month.

Dr Tambyah said that if doctors are feeling such pressures, he can imagine what workers in other sectors may be feeling.

(Watch the full video of his speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3L_EGc2vAo).

It has been reported in TISG last June that a Singaporean who went to polyclinics to see a doctor had asked for a local doctor instead when they were being referred to see a foreign one (http://theindependent.sg/singaporean-assigned-a-foreign-doctor-at-polyclinic-demands-a-local-one). The netizen explained that he did so because he didn’t want to take chances of risking his mother’s life to some foreign “uncertified doctor”.

Netizens who responded to his post also brought up the case of Madam Koh Ah Tow who later died after she was prescribed with the wrong dosage of medicine by a Filipino doctor, Dr Diana Ramos Santos, at Clementi Polyclinic. Madam Koh died after she received 4 times more than the normal dosage she was supposed to be taking.

To make matters worse, Dr Santos tried to cover up and did not amend the prescription even after realising this. At the time, the media didn’t say where Dr Santos had obtained her medical degree from.

SMC issuing “temporary” license to foreign doctors from unaccredited medical schools

TISG also reported that to circumvent the shortages of doctors in Singapore, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) appears to be resorting to issuing “temporary” license to foreign doctors from unaccredited 3rd-world medical schools to work here (http://theindependent.sg/smc-issuing-temporary-license-to-foreign-doctors-with-unaccredited-degree-to-work-here).

According to SMC’s own website (http://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/content/hprof/smc/en/leftnav/becoming_a_registereddoctor/international_medical_graduates.html), for doctors with foreign medical degree, only those who graduated from any of the below approved list of overseas medical schools are recognised by SMC:

http://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/content/dam/hprof/smc/docs/becoming_registered_doctor/Second%20Schedule%20-%20Registrable%20Basic%20Medical%20Qualifications.pdf

SMC specifically stated (http://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/content/hprof/smc/en/leftnav/becoming_a_registereddoctor/international_medical_graduates.html), “The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) would like to highlight that International Medical Graduates who do not hold qualifications which are recognised by the SMC, will not be eligible to apply for medical registration to practise in Singapore. This applies to all applicants.”

But then it added a caveat at the end of the page, saying that doctors who do not meet this criteria “may apply for temporary registration”.

Indeed, in the article, it highlighted 2 such examples – both doctors from Myanmar below had graduated from the University of Yangon. This university is not found inside the approved list of medical schools from SMC itself. Yet both were given “temporary registration” to work as medical practitioners at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong:
Foreign doctors with unapproved degree also work at polyclinics

In addition to hospitals, foreign doctors who graduated from unapproved 3rd-world medical schools (i.e, those not found inside the above SMC approved list) have also been found practising at our polyclinics.

A cursory search on SMC website (https://prs.moh.gov.sg/prs/internet/profSearch/main.action?hpe=SMC) found at least 2 were given “temporary registration” to work here – one at Marine Parade polyclinic and the other at Outram polyclinic:
One graduated from lloilo Doctors’ College of Med Inc (Philippines) and the other from Far Eastern U (Philippines). In fact, SMC’s own approved list of medical schools does not list any of the Philippines universities inside. Nor is there any from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia.

Only 5 third world countries have some of their medical schools approved by SMC. They are China (8 schools), India (9 but 1 was deleted), Malaysia (2), Pakistan (1), Sri Lanka (1).


UPDATE:

Dr Paul Tambyah has said in his Facebook that this article misrepresented his speech, and that he was “not referring to NUH hospital administrators at all or the entire healthcare system, but (was) calling out bad behavior”.

FURTHER UPDATE:

Senior Minister of State for Health, Mr Chee Hong Tat, has criticised Dr Tambyah for saying TISG had misrepresented him. He said he had heard a recording of Prof Tambyah’s speech and found the report accurate.