The Ultimate Guide To MCs (During NS)

NS MC Guide

Being a military organization, everything in SAF is tightly regulated, to ensure a level of standardization among all. These tight regulations help to ensure that the SAF is able to function well and carry out its duties of protecting our Nation.

These regulations don’t only apply to training and regimentation, but also include personal matters such as reporting sickwhich is the topic of today’s discussion.

Taking medical leaveAKA MC – during NS is not only confusing for new enlistees but even for people who have been inside for a while. I know this from experience, as even 1 year into my unit life, I was pretty much clueless about this MC stuff till I ORD-ed.

As such, allow me to enlighten you, like how I was enlightened by my best friend, Google.

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Can I report sick outside of camp during NS?

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Source: CMPB

This is probably the most important question of all – “Can I report sick outside of camp?”. 

Fortunately, reporting sick outside camp, during your book-out days is perfectly fine. As mentioned by CMPB, a Medical Certificate (MC) issued by a certified external government doctor is recognised by the SAF.

“This means that you can report sick outside and be granted a medical leave – as long as you’re visiting a registered clinician.”

And this holds true, whether you’re in BMT or in Unit, where you are allowed to report sick outside (RSO) of camp. Based on my personal experience, the same rules also tend to apply to RSO in both Unit and BMT.

Here is a comparison between Unit and BMT:

(Disclaimer: This was based on my own unit and BMT experience so yours might slightly differ from mine)

RulesBMTUnit
1. Type of doctors allowedOnly Western doctors are allowed – meaning only registered clinics and polyclinics. (list for reference)

Traditional doctors (TCM) or spiritual healers etc. not allowed
Only Western doctors are allowed – meaning only registered clinics and polyclinics. (list for reference)

Traditional doctors (TCM) or spiritual healers etc. not allowed
2. Cutoff Time to RSO

Cutoff time refers to the time of the day when you can no longer RSO

So if the cutoff time is 10 am: After 10 am, you will no longer be allowed to RSO but instead have to visit the camp Medical Officer (MO)

The only exceptions to this are medical emergencies, but in such cases, you will be required to provide the relevant documentation
10 am on Sunday (Book-in day)12 pm on Sunday (Book-in day)
3.  Is permission required? Have to seek approval from section commanders before RSO.

If not given the green light, not allowed to RSO, if not liable to be met with disciplinary action
Have to seek approval from section commanders before RSO.

If not given the green light, not allowed to RSO, if not liable to be met with disciplinary action

Endorsement of MC

While it is perfectly fine for you to RSO, do take note that if you’re MC lasts for more than 3 days, you will be required to return to camp and have your camp MO endorse your MC. This is not explicitly stated anywhere online but is a protocol that is followed throughout the SAF.

“Endorsement of MC is either done, during your MC period or after your MC has ended – and this is ultimately dependant on your reason for having an MC and your superiors.”

For example, one of my buddies received a 6-month MC after receiving knee surgery and was required to come into camp and endorse his MC, about a month after his surgery

The rationale was that, since his MC wasn’t for any sort of contagious disease, it was fine for him to step into camp during his MC period and have it endorsed – after being given enough time to rest post-op.

What kind of MCs are accepted in NS?

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Source: CMPB

As mentioned above, only MCs from certified clinicians are recognised by the SAF. This means that any sort of MC from TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or spiritual healers is not viewed as valid.

With regards to certified clinicians, it is also fine for you to visit either a public or private clinic.

Can I go out while I am on MC during NS?

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Source: SSO

You should do your best to avoid going out while on MC as you might risk getting charged for malingering. According to the Singapore Armed Forces Act 1972 (which is still valid today), malingering – AKA falsely pretending to be sick – is a chargeable offence and can lead you to getting a one-way trip to DB (Detention Barracks).

“The reason being that, when you’re on MC, you are deemed to be medically unfit for duty and thus given a medical leave. However, being able to go out and about, would suggest otherwise.”

However, the exception to this is that, you are allowed to leave your home strictly for essentials if there is nobody to assist you – essentials include food, groceries or medication. You are also permitted to seek further medical treatment if required.

Do note that you are still required to inform and seek approval from your higher-ups before leaving your house. This is to prevent any misunderstanding if they do a house visit and you fail to be at home. 

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Source: Grab

Furthermore, with the rising popularity of food delivery services such as Grab & Food Panda, going out to buy food may no longer be counted as a valid reason for leaving the house while on MC – and this is why seeking approval before leaving home is so important.

Will there be a house visit that is conducted by my superiors while I’m on MC?

House visits are usually not conducted for short duration MCs (1 week or less). However, if your MC lasts for an extended period (a few weeks to months), house visits are entirely possible.

“If you are not at home during the house visit AND did not seek approval from your higher-ups to leave home, you can get charged for malingering (mentioned above).”

Getting caught for not being home during a house visit will pretty much secure you a 14-day vacation in DB. While people might tell you that getting caught is highly unlikely, I really would still suggest against it

Just ask your Military Police (MP) friends and they will tell you that there are a lot of people being sent to DB for this reason – so it’s really not as rare as you might picture it to be.

Is there a limit to the number of MCs I can take during NS?

You might be surprised to hear that there is technically no limit to the amount of MCs that you can take. It is theoretically possible to take MC continuously every week and not even book-in into camp at all.

I witnessed this with my very own eyes in the 1st 2-months of being in unit. 

There was this one particular guy who hated the vocation so much and just wanted to get out so bad. And he successfully did! 

“We are not sure how, but he basically took MC for 4 months straight where he would sometimes book-in on Sunday night, just to get an MC from the MO the next day. Needless to say, he was eventually posted out”

While there is no limit to the amount of MCs that you can take, it is still possible for your unit to stop you from reporting sick outside of camp or to call you back into camp while you’re on MC.

I remember this really funny incident in my unit where 15 guys reported sick outside and got 1-day MCs when we were given a half-day off. My unit called all 15 of them back and had them visit the MO together as all of them had reported sick with stomach issues.

“The higher-ups said the visit to the MO was to check if all of them had the same symptoms and thus possible same underlying cause of food poisoning from cookhouse – but we know otherwise.”

As such, just because you’re on MC, don’t think that you’re invincible.

Conclusion

Ending it off on this note, I hope that I have been able to clear up any questions that you might have had. While there are definitely rules and regulations in place, they are ultimately put in place for good reason!

As long as you are really sick when you RSO, there is nothing for you to worry about. 

Just make sure that you follow the proper procedures and always remember to keep your higher-ups in the loop!


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Isaac Lim

Always looking to try new things and blogging is one of them!

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