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REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
GOVERNMENT GAZETTE
ACTS SUPPLEMENT
Published by Authority

NO. 21] Friday, June 4 [1999

The following Act was passed by Parliament on 15th April 1999 and assented to by the President on 30th April 1999:—
Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (Amendment) Act 1999

(No. 19 of 1999)


I assent.

ONG TENG CHEONG,
President.
30th April 1999.
Date of Commencement: 1st June 1999
Be it enacted by the President with the advice and consent of the Parliament of Singapore, as follows:
Short title and commencement
1.  This Act may be cited as the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (Amendment) Act 1999 and shall come into operation on such date as the Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, appoint.
Amendment of section 2
2.  Section 2 of the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (referred to in this Act as the principal Act) is amended —
(a)
by inserting, immediately above the definition of “clinical laboratory”, the following definition:
“ “authorised officer” means —
(a)
any public officer appointed by the Director under section 2A(2) to perform the duties and exercise the powers of the Director under this Act or any regulations made thereunder; and
(b)
any person authorised by the Director under section 2A(3) to assist in the administration of this Act;”;
(b)
by inserting, immediately after the definition of “Director”, the following definition:
“ “healthcare establishment” means any premises or conveyance (not being a private hospital, medical clinic or clinical laboratory or part thereof, and not being an establishment or conveyance maintained by the Government or the National University of Singapore) —
(a)
which is used or intended to be used for the provision of any service, or for carrying out any practice or procedure, that is related to the diagnosis, treatment or care of persons suffering from any disease, injury or disability; and
(b)
which is declared by the Minister, by order published in the Gazette, to be a healthcare establishment for the purposes of this Act;”; and
(c)
by deleting the words “or clinical laboratory” in the definition of “licence” and substituting the words “, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment”.
New section 2A
3.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 2, the following section:
Administration of Act and appointment of officers, etc.
2A.
—(1)  The Director shall, subject to the general or special directions of the Minister, be responsible for the administration of this Act.
(2)  The Director may, in writing, appoint any public officer to perform all duties imposed and exercise all powers conferred on the Director by this Act or any regulations made thereunder, subject to such conditions and limitations as the Director may specify.
(3)  The Director may, in writing, authorise any other person to assist in the administration of this Act.
(4)  The Director and every authorised officer shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of the Penal Code (Cap. 224).
(5)  The Minister may establish one or more advisory committees consisting of such persons as he may appoint for the purpose of advising on such matters arising out of the administration of this Act as are referred to them by the Minister or the Director.”.
Amendment of section 3
4.  Section 3 (2) of the principal Act is amended —
(a)
by deleting “$5,000” and substituting “$20,000”; and
(b)
by deleting the words “one year” and substituting the words “2 years”.
Repeal and re-enactment of sections 4 and 5
5.  Sections 4 and 5 of the principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:
Licences for private hospitals, medical clinics, clinical laboratories and healthcare establishments
4.
—(1)  No premises shall be used as a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment except under the authority and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence issued by the Director.
(2)  If a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment is not licensed or is used otherwise than in accordance with the terms and conditions of its licence, every person having the management or control thereof shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
(3)  The Director may order the person having the management or control of any unlicensed private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to close that private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment either forthwith or within such time as the Director may specify.
(4)  If the person to whom an order is given under subsection (3) fails to comply with the order —
(a)
he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding $1,000 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction; and
(b)
the Director may take such measures as he thinks necessary to secure the closure of the unlicensed private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment.
Application for issue and renewal of licences
5.
—(1)  An application for a licence shall be made to the Director in the prescribed form and shall be accompanied by —
(a)
the prescribed fee;
(b)
such particulars, information and documents as may be specified by the Director; and
(c)
if required by the Director, a statutory declaration by the applicant verifying any information contained in or relating to the application.
(2)  On receipt of an application under subsection (1), the Director may —
(a)
issue the licence applied for subject to such terms and conditions as he thinks fit to impose; or
(b)
refuse to issue the licence applied for.
(3)  In determining whether to issue or refuse to issue a licence, the Director shall have regard to —
(a)
the character and fitness of the applicant to be issued with a licence or, where the applicant is a body corporate, the character and fitness of the members of the board of directors or committee or board of trustees or other governing body of the body corporate;
(b)
the ability of the applicant to operate and maintain a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment, as the case may be, in accordance with the prescribed standards;
(c)
the suitability of the premises (including the facilities and equipment therein) to be licensed for use as a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment, as the case may be; and
(d)
the adequacy of the nursing and other staff that is to be employed at the premises to be licensed.
(4)  For the purpose of subsection (3), the Director, before issuing the licence applied for, may —
(a)
inspect the premises to be licensed, or cause such premises to be inspected by an authorised officer; and
(b)
require the applicant at his own expense —
(i)
to make such alteration or improvement to the premises to be licensed; or
(ii)
to provide, fix or install such facilities and equipment therein,
as the Director may specify.
(5)  The Director may, at any time, vary or revoke any of the existing terms or conditions imposed under subsection (2)(a) or impose new terms and conditions.
(6)  Every licence issued under this section —
(a)
shall be in such form as the Director may determine;
(b)
shall be valid for the period stated therein unless it is sooner revoked under section 8; and
(c)
may be renewed upon its expiry.
(7)  Subsections (1) to (6) shall apply, with the necessary modifications, to an application for the renewal of a licence.”.
Amendment of section 6
6.  Section 6 (4) of the principal Act is amended by deleting “$5,000” in the 5th line and substituting “$20,000”.
Amendment of section 7
7.  Section 7 of the principal Act is amended by deleting the words “and clinical laboratories” and substituting the words “, clinical laboratories and healthcare establishments”.
Repeal and re-enactment of section 8
8.  Section 8 of the principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted therefor:
Suspension and revocation of licences
8.
—(1)  The Director may suspend or revoke a licence if —
(a)
the issue of the licence has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation;
(b)
the person to whom the licence has been issued is contravening or has contravened or failed to comply with —
(i)
any of the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(ii)
any term or condition of his licence; or
(iii)
any direction given to him by the Director or an authorised officer under this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(c)
he is no longer satisfied as to any of the matters specified in section 5(3);
(d)
the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment in respect of which the licence was issued has ceased to operate as such; or
(e)
it is in the public interest to do so.
(2)  Before suspending or revoking the licence under subsection (1), the Director shall —
(a)
give to the holder of the licence notice in writing of his intention to do so; and
(b)
in such notice, call upon the holder of the licence to show cause within such time as may be specified in the notice as to why his licence should not be suspended or revoked.
(3)  If the holder of the licence —
(a)
fails to show cause within the period of time given to him or such extended period of time as the Director may allow; or
(b)
fails to show sufficient cause,
as to why his licence should not be suspended or revoked, the Director shall give notice in writing to the holder of the licence of the date from which the suspension or revocation of his licence is to take effect.”.
Amendment of section 9
9.  Section 9 of the principal Act is amended by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:
(1)  Any person who is aggrieved by —
(a)
the refusal of the Director to issue or renew a licence under section 5; or
(b)
the decision of the Director to suspend or revoke a licence under section 8,
may, within 21 days of the date of receipt of the notice informing him of such refusal, suspension or revocation, as the case may be, appeal in writing to the Minister whose decision shall be final.”.
Repeal and re-enactment of sections 10 to 13
10.  Sections 10 to 13 of the principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:
Quality assurance committees
10.
—(1)  The licensee of a private hospital or a healthcare establishment shall establish one or more quality assurance committees to —
(a)
monitor and evaluate the quality and appropriateness of the services provided and the practices and procedures carried out at the private hospital or healthcare establishment;
(b)
identify and resolve problems that may have arisen in connection with any service provided or any practice or procedure carried out at the private hospital or healthcare establishment;
(c)
make recommendations to improve the quality of the services provided and the practices and procedures carried out at the private hospital or healthcare establishment; and
(d)
monitor the implementation of the recommendations made under paragraph (c).
(2)  The licensee of a private hospital or a healthcare establishment shall report to the Director the activities, findings and recommendations of each quality assurance committee of the private hospital or healthcare establishment as and when required by the Director.
(3)  A person who is or was a member of a quality assurance committee is neither competent nor compellable —
(a)
to produce before any court, tribunal, board or person any document in his possession or under his control that was created by, at the request of or solely for the purpose of the quality assurance committee; or
(b)
to disclose to any court, tribunal, board or person any information that has come to his knowledge as a member of the quality assurance committee.
(4)  Subsection (3) shall not apply to a requirement made by any court, tribunal, board or person for the production of any document or the disclosure of any information in proceedings in respect of any act or omission by a quality assurance committee or by a person as a member of a quality assurance committee, unless the Director directs otherwise.
(5)  A finding or recommendation by a quality assurance committee as to the need for changes or improvements in relation to any service provided or any practice or procedure carried out at a private hospital or a healthcare establishment is not admissible in any proceedings as evidence that the service, practice or procedure is or was inappropriate or inadequate.
(6)  Anything done by a quality assurance committee, a member of a quality assurance committee or any person acting under the direction of a quality assurance committee in good faith for the purposes of the exercise of the quality assurance committee’s functions, does not subject such a member or person personally to any action, liability, claim or demand.
(7)  Without limiting subsection (6), a member of a quality assurance committee has qualified privilege in proceedings for defamation in respect of —
(a)
any statement made orally or in writing in the exercise of the functions of a member; or
(b)
the contents of any report or other information published by the quality assurance committee.
Powers of entry, search, inspection, seizure, etc.
11.
—(1)  The Director or an authorised officer may, at any time and without warrant, enter, inspect and search any premises which is being used, or which he has reasonable cause to believe is being used, as a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment in order to —
(a)
investigate whether this Act or any regulations made thereunder has been or is being contravened; or
(b)
assess the quality and appropriateness of the facilities and services provided and the practices and procedures being carried out at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment.
(2)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the Director or authorised officer may —
(a)
inspect any apparatus, appliance, equipment or instrument used or found in the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment;
(b)
inspect, test, examine, take, remove and detain samples of blood, blood products, human tissue or fluid or any product of the human body, dialysate, chemicals, pharmaceuticals or any other substance found in the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment;
(c)
inspect, test, examine, take and remove all containers, articles and other things that the Director or authorised officer reasonably believes to contain or to have contained blood, blood products, human tissue or fluid or any product of the human body, dialysate, chemicals, pharmaceuticals or any other substance;
(d)
inspect any test or procedure performed or carried out at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment in order to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act and any regulations made thereunder;
(e)
inspect and make copies of and take extracts from, or require the licensee or person having the management or control of the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to provide copies of or extracts from, any book, document, record or electronic material relating to the affairs of the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment or the facilities or services provided or the practices or procedures being carried out thereat;
(f)
inspect and make copies of and take extracts from, or require the licensee or person having the management or control of the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to provide copies of or extracts from, the medical record of any person who has been or who is being treated or examined at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment, notwithstanding that the prior consent of such person has not been obtained; and
(g)
seize and remove from the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment any book, record, document, apparatus, equipment, instrument, material, article, sample, blood, blood product, human tissue or fluid or any product of the human body, dialysate, chemical, pharmaceutical or other substance which the Director or authorised officer reasonably believes to be the subject-matter of, or to be connected with the commission of, an offence under this Act or any regulations made thereunder.
(3)  The Director in order to —
(a)
ascertain whether the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder are being complied with; or
(b)
assess the quality and appropriateness of the facilities and services provided and the practices and procedures being carried out at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment,
may, at any time, require the licensee or person having the management or control of a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to furnish such information as the Director may require relating to —
(i)
the persons employed thereat;
(ii)
any apparatus, appliance, equipment or instrument used or any practice or procedure being carried out at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment; or
(iii)
the condition, treatment or diagnosis of any person who has been or who is being treated or examined at the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment, notwithstanding that the prior consent of such person has not been obtained.
(4)  Any licensee or person having the management or control of the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment who —
(a)
refuses or fails, without reasonable excuse, to furnish any information to the Director in contravention of subsection (3); or
(b)
gives any false or misleading information,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
Confidentiality of information
12.
—(1)  Except in the case of a prosecution for an offence under this Act or any regulations made thereunder, the Director and an authorised officer shall not be compellable in any proceedings to give evidence in respect of, or to produce any document containing, any information which has been obtained from any private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment in the course of carrying out any investigation or performing any duty or function under this Act.
(2)  The Director and an authorised officer shall not disclose any information which is contained in the medical record, or which relates to the condition, treatment or diagnosis, of any person, as may have come to his knowledge in the course of carrying out any investigation or performing any duty or function under this Act unless the disclosure is made —
(a)
under or for the purpose of administering and enforcing —
(i)
this Act;
(iii)
the Termination of Pregnancy Act (Cap. 324);
(b)
for the purpose of any disciplinary proceedings under the Dentists Act (Cap. 76) or the Medical Registration Act (Cap. 174); or
(c)
for any other purpose with the consent of the person to whom the information relates or the representative of such person.
(3)  For the purposes of subsection (2)(c), “representative” —
(a)
in relation to a deceased person, means his executor, administrator or next of kin;
(b)
in relation to an infant, means one of his parents or his guardian; and
(c)
in relation to a mentally disordered person, means the committee of the estate of that person appointed under the Mental Disorders and Treatment Act (Cap. 178).
Directions as to apparatus and equipment, etc.
13.
—(1)  Where, in the opinion of the Director or an authorised officer, the use of any apparatus, appliance, equipment or instrument or the carrying out of any practice or procedure in a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment —
(a)
is dangerous or detrimental to any person therein; or
(b)
is otherwise unsuitable for the purpose for which it is used or carried out,
the Director or authorised officer may, by notice, direct the licensee or person having the management or control of the private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to stop using such apparatus, appliance, equipment or instrument or to stop carrying out such practice or procedure.
(2)  The Director or an authorised officer may, by notice, direct the licensee or person having the management or control of a private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment to install or replace such apparatus, appliance, equipment or instrument therein, as may be specified in the notice.
(3)  Any licensee or person who fails to comply with any direction given to him under subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding $1,000 for every day or part thereof during which the offence continues after conviction.”.
Repeal of section 14
11.  Section 14 of the principal Act is repealed.
Amendment of section 16
12.  Section 16 of the principal Act is amended by deleting “$2,000” in the last line and substituting “$5,000”.
New sections 16A to 16E
13.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 16, the following sections:
Obstructing officers in execution of their duties
16A.  Any person who obstructs, hinders or impedes the Director or any authorised officer in the performance or execution of his duty or anything which he is authorised, empowered or required to do under this Act or any regulations made thereunder shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
Protection from liability
16B.  No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against the Director, any authorised officer or any member of an advisory committee established under section 2A(5), for anything which is done in good faith in the execution or purported execution of this Act or any regulations made thereunder.
Jurisdiction of Courts
16C.  Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68), a District Court or a Magistrate’s Court shall have jurisdiction to try any offence under this Act or any regulations made thereunder and to impose the full penalty or punishment in respect of any such offence.
Composition of offences
16D.
—(1)  The Director may, in his discretion, compound any offence under this Act or any regulations made thereunder which is prescribed as a compoundable offence by collecting from a person reasonably suspected of having committed the offence a sum of money not exceeding $2,000.
(2)  On payment of such sum of money, no further proceedings shall be taken against such person in respect of the offence.
Exemption
16E.
—(1)  The Minister may, subject to such terms or conditions as he may impose, exempt any private hospital, medical clinic, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment from all or any of the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder.
(2)  An exemption granted under this section may be revoked at any time.”.
Amendment of section 17
14.  Section 17 (2) of the principal Act is amended —
(a)
by inserting, immediately after the words “clinical laboratory” in paragraphs (b) and (i), the words “or healthcare establishment”;
(b)
by deleting the words “or clinical laboratory” in paragraph (c) and substituting the words “, clinical laboratory or healthcare establishment”;
(c)
by deleting the words “and clinical laboratory” in paragraphs (d), (e), (h) and (j) and substituting in each case the words “, clinical laboratory and healthcare establishment”;
(d)
by deleting the words “or medical clinic” in paragraph (g) and substituting the words “, medical clinic or healthcare establishment”; and
(e)
by deleting the full-stop at the end of paragraph (j) and substituting the word “; and”, and by inserting immediately thereafter the following paragraph:
(k)
the composition, procedures, duties and responsibilities of quality assurance committees of private hospitals and healthcare establishments.”.