Today, right after the Minister for Health answered the two questions filed on the Hepatitis C cluster at SGH, Parliamentary Question time ended and there was no time for Supplementary Questions. I had asked for details of the penalties and warnings given: to whom they were awarded and for what action or inaction.
The Minister declined to disclose this information and alluded to not wanting to create a culture of blame. I had hoped to ask, as supplementary questions:-
– if the public does not know what actions (or inaction) met with what warning or penalty, how do these penalties act as a deterrent to others?
– if the lapses were not that serious, as suggested by the fact that only financial penalties and warnings were given, what harm would be done to the individuals for that information to be disclosed? It would, in fact, help clear their name of suspicion of more serious misconduct. After all, their current and likely future employers would probably know of these penalties, so they would suffer no further career disadvantage from such disclosure.
– without disclosure, other senior staff at MOH and SGH may have to live with public suspicion that they were involved in the incident and committed lapses when they did not, which is not fair to them.
This is not about the allocation of blame but ensuring a culture of public accountability and bolstering public confidence in Singapore’s healthcare system.