Annual General meeting against proposed amendments to SAC - 17/3/2010

link to times article;

Wednesday, 17th March 2010

Doctors sense 'political interference' in proposal
Cynthia Busuttil

Doctors have given the thumbs down to proposed changes in the Specialist Accreditation Committee, which would see more than half of its members appointed by the government.

"It is completely unacceptable, a definite no-no," the president of the Medical Association of Malta, Martin Balzan said.

The committee decides on the qualifications needed for different specialisations. It is made up of 14 members, the majority of whom are elected representatives of different medical specialities.

The government is now proposing having seven doctors nominated by the government and another six elected by doctors, Dr Balzan said.

"We believe professional standards should be set by peers in the same profession," Dr Balzan said, adding that doctors present at the association's annual general meeting last week voted against the proposed changes.

He said there was nothing to show that the present standards were inadequate and there was therefore no reason to change the committee's format.

"We see this as interference with professional standards," he said.

Dr Balzan said doctors believed that, under the new set-up, the committee would not have the necessary expertise to set standards and would not be representative of professional associations.

"It smacks of political interference," he said, adding such an arrangement was only present in former communist countries.

When contacted, a Health Ministry spokesman confirmed the government was proposing changes to the Specialist Accreditation Committee but added these were still subject to negotiation with all the stakeholders.

The proposal is included in the Health Care Professions Act and the government was discussing it with those involved. The amendments targeted issues aimed at improving the regulation of healthcare professions, the spokesman said.

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