Hepatitis C outbreak: New task force to boost infection control in hospitals

Health Minster Gan Kim Yong speaking to reporters on Tuesday (Dec 8).
Health Minster Gan Kim Yong speaking to reporters on Tuesday (Dec 8).ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has set up a task force to strengthen infection control in all hospitals following the release of the report on the hepatitis C outbreak at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in which 25 patients were infected and eight have died.

The task force is headed by the Ministry of Health's (MOH) new Minister of State Chee Hong Tat and will see how the surveillance and detection of infectious diseases, both in hospitals and in the community, can be enhanced.

"This is a very painful incident for all of us," Mr Gan told the media yesterday. "We must be determined to learn from this incident so that we can improve and be better."

Mr Gan added that SGH and the ministry will set up separate panels to assess what disciplinary action, if any, needs to be taken against any of the key people involved in the episode that he described as "painful".

The panel that will look at the actions of ministry staff will be headed by Ms Yong Ying I, Permanent Secretary of the Public Service Division, who previously held the post of permanent secretary in the Health Ministry.

The one for SGH will be set up by the SingHealth cluster to which the hospital belongs. The panel will include people from outside SingHealth, as well as from the civil service who "will understand the level of accountability", said Mr Gan.

He also said there is no need for a committee of inquiry into the incident as the report is very thorough.

He added: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to patients and their family members. I'm sorry for the lapses in the system".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'New task force to boost infection control in hospitals'. Print Edition | Subscribe