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Medical Council gets tough on doctors - Continuing education warning issued for doctors

Published:Sunday | February 9, 2014 | 2:00 AM
Medical doctors during an operation at the Cornwall Regional Hospital. - File

Amid growing concerns about falling health-care standards at some of the country's public health facilities, the Medical Council of Jamaica is warning doctors that they could be banned from practising locally if they fail to meet the annual continuing medical education (CME).

According to the Medical Council, it is determined to ensure that local doctors are knowledgeable about the latest trends in their practice, in keeping with the new thrust towards evidence-based medicine.

The council is now insisting that all medical practitioners must produce evidence of at least 20 CME hours before annual renewal of their practising certificate.

Chairman of the Medical Council, Dr John Hall, says the requirement is mandatory and no excuses will be tolerated.

"The required hours may be had from seminars which address areas such as review of data on specific subjects, for example, a new drug, cardiology, neurology, or any other area of speciality in medicine," Hall told The Sunday Gleaner.

"Ethics is also a critical component of the requirements for a doctor to maintain his or her position on the council's register," added Hall.

ETHICS SESSIONS MANDATORY

He said at least two hours of ethics is mandatory and the Medical Council is adamant that all doctors registered to practise medicine in Jamaica meet this requirement or face being struck from the council's register.

Doctors will also be required to pay fees range from $2,500 to $8,000, depending on the number of years that they have been qualified to practise.

"Any doctor who fails to pay the required annual renewal of certification fee between January 2 and the end of February of each year is deemed to be practising illegally with medico-legal implications. The fee is also doubled after this period," warned Hall.

He said unlike other disciplines in the medical fraternity, which will accept both medical and non-medical-related continuing education hours, the Medical Council requires that CME hours are based strictly on medical areas of knowledge.

"This is essential to ensure doctors are kept up to date with the latest trends in medicine and are, therefore, able to offer their patients better options in health care," Hall, a renowned consultant neurologist, explained.

He was supported by Professor Howard Spencer, a noted cardiac surgeon and registrar at the Medical Council.

Spencer reported that in recent times, no doctor has had to be removed from the register, but he noted that the council does not currently have a mechanism for detecting doctors who may be in breach of the requirements.

He said the Medical Council is strongly encouraging doctors to comply.

"There is far more enthusiasm among younger doctors to find the fees to attend the various conferences and workshops," noted Spencer.

According to the Medical Council, doctors renewing their practising certificate have the option of sending the information regarding their CMEs via email, post or bearer.

The required fees may be paid directly to the council's bank account. Additionally, doctors who are practising overseas are required, by the Medical Act, to provide the council's registry with a permanent address to facilitate the updating of their data. If they decide to resume their practice in Jamaica, they will be required to pay only the fees current at that time.