In the course of my work, I often see full-time national servicemen (NSF) with hand and wrist injuries.
I givethem appropriate medical leave commensurate with the severity of their injuries.
But I have encountered cases where soldiers have had their medical leave revoked by their camp's medical officer or commanders and were made to return to their duties. The medical condition of some of these patients were aggravated as a result of this.
The duties that soldiers perform are no less hazardous nor any less strenuous than those undertaken by the workers mentioned in a recent report (Docs reminded to give injured workers the rest they need; Oct 19). Like the injured workers, the key concern when the injured NSF is made to return to his duties is the risk of aggravating the injuries and reducing his chance of full recovery.
Just as the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) are concerned that some doctors are not giving injured workers the rest they need, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the SMC should be concerned that our young and injured NSFs are not given the rest they require to recover. When the NSF is injured and is unable to perform his duties, he is entitled to medical leave.
By revoking the medical leave given, the doctor may be breaching the SMC's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines and may have done so not with the best interest of the patient in mind. Errant commanders should be reported to Mindef and errant doctors should be reported to the SMC.
Tan Soo Heong (Dr)