MCs for injured workers: Err on the side of caution

Dr Andrew Yam Kean Tuck is correct in calling for errant doctors colluding with companies to provide minimal medical leave for workers to be harshly dealt with (Don't penalise doctors for employers' failings; Oct 29).

The circular by the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Health is timely.

At Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), we see over a thousand cases of industrial accidents annually, many of which come through our free meals programme for destitute workers.

This food programme has sometimes come close to running out of money to continue operations. In these circumstances, we definitely are not interested in devoting scarce resources to support malingering workers.

What we have quite often seen are cases where the first doctor, usually in a private clinic, prescribed one or two days' medical leave, but when the patient sought a second opinion, usually at a public hospital, this was extended by several weeks.

We have also seen cases where the patient had to undergo surgery, but was still given just one day's medical leave after that. This suggests the possibility that the original short medical leave was determined by factors other than the medical condition.

The motivation for employers to keep accidents unreported cannot be underestimated. Workers themselves have been coerced by their supervisors to request or accept minimal medical leave disproportionate to their injuries.

Generally speaking, small construction companies rarely ever have work that is light in nature.

It may be more consistent with medical ethics to err on the side of caution and prescribe medical leave to ensure that patients in this industry get rest rather than rely on the word of employers.

Ethan Guo

General Manager, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2018, with the headline 'MCs for injured workers: Err on the side of caution'. Print Edition | Subscribe