Photo of Gan Kim Yong from The Straits Times

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong today (April 4th) refused to reveal the names and punishments of those responsible for the virus outbreak which killed 8 lives. The Minister defended his decision saying that “pain and regret” is a greater penalty and “we should not be building a blame culture”:

“Instead of focusing on naming the individuals and developing a blame culture in our healthcare institutions, we need to encourage a learning culture to make our hospitals as safe as possible for our patients…

When a warning is issued, it is lodged in the staff’s service record. A stern warning is a more serious penalty. Not only is it entered into the staff’s service record, it has a negative bearing on his career, including future promotion and awards. A warning or stern warning may be given together with a fine.

But the greatest penalty is not these disciplinary measures. For everyone involved, including those who had provided direct care to the affected patients, we will carry with us the pain and regret of this incident for a long time.”

The Health Minister excused himself from taking responsibilities as his ministry punished 20 staffs. Minister Gan Kim Yong did not reveal to the public in May when his ministry confirmed the virus outbreak in May 2015, and his Health Ministry (MOH) kept quiet about the outbreak for 5 months until Oct 2015 before making a public announcement of the virus outbreak. There was no explanation for the 5 months cover up but it is understood that the delay happened because of the Sep 2015 General Election. The Singapore government was worried that the virus outbreak incident may cost them votes in the election, which the ruling party PAP eventually won with a record 69.8% majority.

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