'No foreign doctors,' insist medical chiefs

'No foreign doctors,' insist medical chiefs

The Medical Council of Thailand (MCT) on Monday refuted claims by some private sector hospitals that they have foreign doctors on staff to assist with patient care and perform surgical procedures.

Dr Ittaporn Kanacharoen, the MCT's secretary-general, yesterday clarified the issue after some privately run hospitals advertised that they have foreign doctors available to see patients.

He said the law limits the practice of international doctors in Thailand and those few who are allowed to work here must first be granted permission by the council.

Under current laws, foreign doctors are only allowed to work in state programmes due to concerns regarding issues of liability, he said.

All applicants for such permits must submit proof of employment from state agencies and have their qualifications examined. They need a working visa and, in some cases, must also have insurance, he added.

"The medical council reviews all applications for foreign doctors every month. It is a temporary permit renewable every year, for state-run hospitals only," he said.

He said Thai doctors who graduate from overseas are required to have a medical licence to practice like those who graduate locally, while foreign doctors who practice without a Thai licence and a permit from the medical council will face legal action.

However, Dr Ittaporn said changes are possible in the future to allow foreign specialists to practice in privately run hospitals in special areas such as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

The council cannot issue permits to foreign doctors at private hospitals because it does not have jurisdiction overseas and cannot proceed in cases where damages are sought by patients. "Under state programmes, however, state agencies shoulder the responsibility," he said.

Tharet Krassanairawiwong, director-general of the Department of Health Service Support, said private hospitals were told at a meeting last week to comply with the regulations.



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