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Concord hospital may lose licence if lapses not rectified by Jan 20

Concord hospital may lose licence if lapses not rectified by Jan 20

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 06 Jan 2021
Author: Timothy Goh

This was the first time that a private hospital was ordered to suspend all services and operations due to failures in compliance with the PHMCA :MOH

Concord International Hospital (CIH), which has been ordered to suspend its medical services, may have its licence revoked if it does not rectify "significant lapses" identified by the Ministry of Health (MOH) by Jan 20.

It found that the hospital, which has apparently been sold, failed to abide by the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act (PHMCA).

Responding to queries by The Straits Times, MOH said on Monday that it carried out inspections from Dec 14 to 16 last year, following changes to the hospital's management team.

The lapses identified affected patient safety, and included life-saving equipment and medication either not being maintained or not made available in critical areas of the hospital, such as the intensive care unit and the operating theatre.

There was also a lack of quality control in the laboratory and infection control processes.

The hospital was therefore ordered to temporarily stop the provision of healthcare services with effect from Dec 19.

On Dec 28, nine days after the hospital's suspension, Nasdaq reported that Concord Medical had agreed to sell 90 per cent equity interest in Concord Healthcare Singapore, which owned and operated the hospital, for about $52.2 million.

The report added that the unnamed purchasers had taken over the management of the hospital, which Concord Medical had ceased to control since November.

Concord Medical's chairman and chief executive, Dr Yang Jianyu, was quoted as saying: "Our divestment of CIH allows Concord Medical to fully concentrate on our efforts to build comprehensive cancer hospitals in China."

MOH said on Monday that this was the first time that a private hospital was ordered to suspend all services and operations due to failures in compliance with the PHMCA.

The ministry noted that aside from a stop order, it could take a range of regulatory enforcement actions against licensed healthcare facilities for lapses under the PHMCA, including warnings, fines and the revocation of a licence.

Failure to comply with directions issued by MOH could lead to a fine of up to $10,000. A fine of up to $1,000 for every day or part thereof will be imposed if the transgressions continue.

Located in Adam Road, CIH was previously known as Fortis Surgical Hospital, a 31-bed private facility which was opened in July 2012 under Fortis Healthcare International, a healthcare delivery service provider in India.

It was sold to Concord Medical Services (International) for $55 million in April 2015, and renamed Concord International Hospital, offering cancer-related treatment, women's health services and surgery.

From March to September last year, it was enlisted by MOH to help care for Covid-19 patients who were clinically well but tested positive for the virus.

Since the suspension, the "About Us" page on CIH's website has been deleted, and leads to a broken link. Links to the hospital's site have also been removed from Concord Medical's website.

CIH has yet to respond to any calls, text messages or e-mails from The Straits Times.

A statement posted on its Facebook page on Dec 23 said: "With input from MOH in view of the change of ownership, the management has decided to take the opportunity to renovate the hospital, improve our protocols and introduce new services to better meet patients' needs moving forward."

Last Thursday, the statement was amended to remove the mention of the ministry and the improvement of protocols.

Both versions of the statement also said the hospital would be relaunching at the end of this month with "new specialities and unique treatments with bespoke service and a brand new name".

"It is time for the hospital to prepare for the challenges come 2021. We thank our departing management team for working tirelessly in 2020 for the sake of national service and keeping our fellow citizens safe and well.

"With the coming new year, comes a new post-Covid era for the medical industry, and a new dawn for Concord," it added.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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