Parliament: Naming individuals rapped over hep C outbreak will not improve patient safety, says Gan Kim Yong

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong speaking to reporters at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on 6 October 2015. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Naming the individuals responsible for the hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) last year will develop a "blame culture" that will not help patients in the long run, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament on Monday (April 4).

"Instead of focusing on naming individuals and developing a blame culture in our healthcare institutions, we need to encourage a learning culture to make our hospitals as safe as they should be," he said.

"Revealing the names of the officers and specific sanctions each individual received does not contribute to better care of patients. In deciding what to disclose, we have to bear in mind the longer-term impact on our healthcare system and healthcare workers, and strike a balance."

Mr Gan was responding to questions from Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) about the case.

Mr Perera asked for the names of the SGH and ministry staff who were disciplined over the case, the penalties or warnings they each got, and why. Ms Cheng asked what measures had been put in place to ensure the incident does not happen again.

In December last year, the independent review committee tasked with investigating the virus outbreak at SGH concluded that poor infection control practices and a slow response were to blame.

Sixteen senior staff - 12 from SGH and four from the Health Ministry - were eventually penalised for their role in the lapses.

These penalties included "warnings, stern warnings, and financial penalties".

Mr Gan said that these penalties would remain in the staff members' service records, and "stern warnings" would have a negative impact on their careers, future promotion and awards.

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