Singapore Passes Law Regulating New Health Services

Authorities to be given the power to license emerging services such as telemedicine and private ambulance services.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Singapore’s Parliament has passed a new law for authorities to license emerging health care services like telemedicine and private ambulance services to better protect patient safety.

Straits Times reported that the new bill — expected to be implemented in three phases beginning early 2021 — will also allow conventional health care platforms to amalgamate other services to improve the quality of service provided. For example, nursing homes may now provide dementia care and geriatric clinical services.

The Healthcare Services Bill replaces the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act, which was enacted four decades ago, and which licensed healthcare providers based on their physical premises. Singapore’s Parliament passed the law on Monday.

Although allied health services as well as traditional and alternative medicine practitioners are covered under the new law, Singapore Senior Minister of State for Health and Law Edwin Tong said that his government has no plans to licence these services at the moment.

Tong clarified, however, that such services may be licensed in the future should they propose a significant threat to the safety and well-being of the patients.

Singapore will now prohibit unlicensed services such as beauty spas from being located in close proximity with licensed medical services to avoid public confusion about the licensing status of these services, he said.

However, some allied health services may be given exceptions if they complement the licensed health service. For example, a physiotherapist would be allowed to be located within the premises of an orthopaedic clinic.

Concerns regarding the possibility of the new law placing unnecessary burden on licensees and increasing the costs of healthcare have been raised.

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