MMC Denies Ever Recognising RCSEd Cardiothoracic Surgery Parallel Pathway Qualification

MMC head Dr Radzi, who’s also Health DG, claims MMC never recognised the Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in Cardiothoracic Surgery. But MMA Schomos says the parallel pathway qualification was listed on NSR as recently as Jan 2022.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has asserted that it never recognised the parallel pathway programme in cardiothoracic surgery with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in the United Kingdom.

The MMC, which regulates the medical profession in Malaysia, also viewed, “with great concern”, a February 4 statement by the Malaysian Association for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (MATCVS) and unnamed articles published by The Star last Saturday.

“The MMC denies that the Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in Cardiothoracic Surgery was at any time recognised by the MMC,” MMC president Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, who is also the Health director-general overseeing the Ministry of Health (MOH), said in a statement yesterday.

“However, the MMC takes note of the issues pertaining to registration of graduates of this programme, and has set up a Task Force with a view to arriving at a resolution of the issues as quickly as possible, which will be communicated to the relevant stakeholders in due course.”

MATCVS previously criticised the MMC’s rejection of specialist registration applications with the National Specialist Register (NSR) by four pioneer parallel pathway graduates in cardiothoracic surgery that prevents them from practising as independent cardiothoracic surgeons.

MATCVS had claimed that the MOH initiated the parallel pathway programme in cardiothoracic surgery in 2016 in collaboration with itself, the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM), and their international partner, the RCSEd in the UK.

Qualification awarded at the end of training is the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in Cardiothoracic Surgery, which MATCVS pointed out is a fully recognised qualification in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Brunei, besides being acceptable and registrable in the UK.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said yesterday that its function under the Medical Act 1971 is to register medical practitioners and to regulate the practice of medicine, noting that the Act was amended in 2017 to entrust the MMC with the responsibility of registering specialists in the NSR, as well as to recognise specialist qualifications and training.

“Accordingly, the MMC is committed to ensuring that medical practitioners registered to practise in this country possess recognised qualifications and have undergone training in accordance with the highest standards of the profession, in the interest of public safety and health.”

Dr Muhammad Radzi also stressed that it was not against any of the parallel pathway programmes, nor was it in the process of discontinuing these programmes as claimed.

“MMC’s interest is in ensuring that the training programmes conducted in the country fulfil the relevant legal and statutory requirements,” Dr Muhammad Radzi said.

“In fact, there are several programmes in the ‘Parallel Pathway’ which have been recognised by the MMC, while in the case of those still not yet recognised, the relevant bodies have been informed to take steps to fulfil the relevant legal requirements for accreditation and recognition.”

He acknowledged the disparity in the number of cardiothoracic surgeons between the public service and private sector.

“However, the brain drain from the public to the private sector is beyond the jurisdiction of the MMC.”

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Schomos expressed confusion at MMC’s denial of having ever recognised the RCSEd qualification in cardiothoracic surgery.

“Please refer to the pictures from the NSR website over the past few years that shows recognition of multiple parallel pathways for cardiothoracic surgery and removal of the recognition of certain parallel pathways for cardiothoracic surgery over the years,” said MMA Schomos on its Facebook page yesterday.

Citing archived versions of the NSR website, MMA Schomos said the Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in Cardiothoracic Surgery was recognised on April 4, 2016 and listed on the NSR as recently as January 23, 2022.

But when the NSR webpage on recognised postgraduate qualifications in medicine was accessed by MMA Schomos on September 9 last year, the website was down.

Last night, when CodeBlue accessed NSR’s website, the site did not display a list of recognised postgraduate qualifications in medicine, only a tool to search for registered specialist doctors.

Instead, the list of recognised postgraduate qualifications is on the MMC’s site. The list excludes the FRCS Cth Edinburgh, listing only four other qualifications in cardiothoracic surgery.

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