Category: Current Affairs
Published on Thursday, 14 April 2016 00:00
Written by Shawn Danker
The following is a conversation overheard at a coffee shop. The names have been changed to protect the conversationalists identity but here's the gist of their conversation.
Johnny: I really have no words...what the hell is our bloody Ministry of Health thinking?!
Lup Cheong: Eh bro, calm down...What happened now?
Johnny: You din hear the news? MOH is now saying that "revealing the staff involved in the Hep C outbreak at SGH will breed blame culture."
Lup Cheong: Oh that. Ya I read about it just now... but I still dun understand why you're so worked up over this development.
Johnny: This is why I think the ministry's logic is flawed and ultimately stupid:
1. People will think that doctors and health ministry officials get special treatment and are therefore not accountable for their mistakes. This entire Hep C saga and how it was handed has left SGH's reputation, and more importantly its credibility, with a massive black eye.
Why are the staff who were found to be culpable allowed to remain in their current position?! It doesn't make any sense and does nothing to earn back the public trust that was lost when the Hep C outbreak came to light last year.
Worse still, slowly but surely Singaporeans are going to start wondering why the G happily publicizes the outcomes of corruption cases and yet goes mum on matters of incompetence.
2. The general public will simply lump MOH and SGH staff together and all SGH staff will be now viewed with suspicion. I feel bad for the overworked nurses and doctors at the hospital because this air of suspicion is going to make their work even harder. I bet you that morale at the hospital is now at an all time low. MOH covering the backsides of the senior staff involved in the matter is going to end up creating more tension amongst hospital staff.
Lup Cheong: I see...
Johnny: Eh Lup Cheong, how come you're not angry about this development?!
Lup Cheong: Well another friend explained this to me, that MOH sitting on the names of the personnel involved is actually to any potential plaintiffs' benefit.
Johnny: What did you friend mean by plaintiffs' benefit?
Lup Cheong: Means that if the patients who were directly affected by the outbreak want to sue for negligence, their case is made much easier. Coz normally in a negligence lawsuit the person bringing the suit forward must directly prove how the doctor's negligence adversely affected your health. MOH's refusal to name names basically admits that there was negligence involved and that the ministry will be the ones shouldering the legal consequences.
Johnny: I see...
Lup Cheong: But I think we won't see any lawsuits filed against SGH or MOH...
Johnny: Why do you think that?
Lup Cheong: Coz they probably got the patients to sign gag orders when the patients or their families accepted compensation. This means the people who are directly affected by the outbreak won't be publicly talking about the outcome they got.
Johnny: Shouldn't that make you even angrier then?!
Lup Cheong: What to do. SGH is our national hospital and it has a lot of services and treatments that other hospitals dun have. Even if I want to boycott the hospital I will at some point or another, lan lan have to go back especially if I tio some illness that can only be treated at SGH.
I dun think that many people are angry about this for a simple reason. We know that people who can afford it will opt to go to a private hospital. While the ones who can't afford to go private know that the subsidized healthcare they get here is a good deal.
Johnny: What you just said...it makes sense...from a logical point of view but it still feels wrong morally. What we have here is a public institution behaving like it's a private corporation.
Lup Cheong: Sigh...what to do...