Parkway suspends doctor who lost defamation suit

Dr Julian Ong (above) lost a defamation suit against a woman who accused him and Dr Chan Herng Nieng (below) of taking advantage of vulnerable patients.
Dr Julian Ong (above) lost a defamation suit against a woman who accused him and Dr Chan Herng Nieng (below) of taking advantage of vulnerable patients.
Dr Julian Ong (above) lost a defamation suit against a woman who accused him and Dr Chan Herng Nieng (below) of taking advantage of vulnerable patients.
Dr Julian Ong lost a defamation suit against a woman who accused him and Dr Chan Herng Nieng (above) of taking advantage of vulnerable patients.

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 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 the details of one of his patients 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 & 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 yesterday, 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. It added that, notwithstanding the suspension by the Parkway hospitals, Dr Ong is still able to practise at the company's heartland centres.

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

The 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 stuck at the SMC's complaints committee for the past 22 months, which 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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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2020, with the headline Parkway suspends doctor who lost defamation suit. Subscribe