Parkway Group suspends accreditation of doctor who lost defamation suit

The suspension will remain in force until or unless the Singapore Medical Council dismisses the complaint made against him. PHOTO: DRJULIANONG.SG

SINGAPORE - Dr Julian Ong, the surgeon who lost his defamation suit against a woman who had accused him of taking advantage of vulnerable patients, will not be allowed to practise at any of the Parkway group hospitals from this week.

This suspension will remain in force until or unless the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) dismisses the complaint made against him by the woman.

The woman had filed a complaint in June 2018 against her former lover, Dr Chan Herng Nieng, who was then a senior consultant psychiatrist at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

On the advice of the SMC, she later included Dr Ong in the complaint, since the actions she had complained about involved both doctors.

According to the complaint, the two men were identifying and sharing information about vulnerable patients and colleagues to have sex with.

Dr Ong sued the woman for defamation, but lost his case on April 3, as the district court judge found her statements to be true.

WhatsApp messages between the two doctors - including one where Dr Ong provided details of one of his patient to Dr Chan and told him to "feel free to play your game" - were produced as evidence in the court case.

Dr Ong practises at the Julian Ong Endoscopy and Surgery clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre. HC Surgical Specialists, a Catalist listed company, holds a 70 per cent stake in the clinic.

HC Surgical Specialists issued a statement on Tuesday (April 21) saying that Dr Ong's accreditation and clinical privileges at the four Parkway hospitals - Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena and Parkway East - were suspended on Monday (April 20).

The statement said that notwithstanding the suspension by the Parkway hospitals, Dr Julian Ong is still able to practise at HC Surgical's heartland centres.

It added that it does not expect any material impact on its bottom line as a result of this move, for the current financial year that ends May 31.

A reader of The Straits Times Teh Hooi Leng, who works in the financial sector, said: "I applaud the Parkway group's decision to suspend Dr Ong's accreditation with its hospitals. I was absolutely disgusted when I read the facts of the case.

"We should all be able to trust our doctors, that they will put the well-being of patients first - like all the millions of doctors and healthcare workers around the world are doing now, at great risk to their own lives."

Parkway said: "The suspension of privileges does not extend to (Dr Ong's) activities within his clinic premises, which belongs to his private practice."

HC Surgical's statement also mentioned that Parkway reserved the right to convene any form of inquiry or investigation deemed appropriate, and to take further action following any SMC or judicial findings involving the professional performance and conduct of the doctor.

The complaint has been with the SMC's Complaints Committee for the past 22 months. This is the committee that decides if a complaint has merit, and whether a disciplinary hearing is called for.

Meanwhile, both doctors are free to continue their practice.

Dr Chan has left SGH and now practises at Capital MindHealth Clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre.

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