Saturday, July 10, 2010

Doctors' behaviour questioned

After reading this letter (below) in The Straits Times' Forum Page today (July 10), my belief that our public health services is one of the best in the world has taken another knock.

What is more disheartening was the curt reply that SGH gave below that letter. I will leave it to you to form your own opinions.

But I would like to ask these questions: Are our public
doctors over-worked, underpaid or badly treated? If not, why are some of them behaving that way?

The Straits Times' Forum letter on July 10, 2010...
Baffled by SGH doctor's
refusal to see her

ON JUNE 30, I arrived five minutes before my scheduled appointment at 9.40am with a doctor at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

Twenty minutes later, an SMS informed me that my turn would come after five more patients.

But I was still kept waiting after more than an hour, while patients who arrived later were ushered in to see the doctor.

When I asked for an explanation, the counter staff consulted the doctor and told me that he was still settling some matters for me.

After an additional half an hour's wait, I asked for an explanation again, especially as my appointment was scheduled so that I could collect my blood test result and have it explained to me.

Subsequently, a customer service officer gave me my blood test result and told me that the doctor did not wish to see me.

After reading the report, I queried one of the findings.

The officer consulted the doctor, who still refused to see me, and told the officer to inform me that the result was all right and that I did not need to consult him or any other doctor.

After much discussion, the officer finally arranged for another doctor to explain the blood test report to me.

I am baffled. I was told to wait to see the doctor, who then refused to see me and worse, arranged for me to consult another doctor.

Before my appointment, I had called the hospital to find out if I could obtain my result without seeing a doctor. I was told that I could not do so. The hospital representative told me that I was required to see a doctor, who would explain the result to me.

Yet I spent hours waiting to see a doctor who ultimately declined to see me.

The experience has affected my impression of SGH as well as the doctors working there.

Chong Shiau Wei (Ms)

SGH reply and comments in The Straits Times' online...
Sorry, says SGH

WE THANK Ms Chong Shiau Wei for her feedback ('Baffled by SGH doctor's refusal to see her'). We are sorry for the lapse in service. We are committed to improving care and service for all patients.

Associate Professor Wong Wai Keong
Head, Department of General Surgery
Singapore General Hospital

I agree with travelersg, Prof Wong's so-called reply is a NO REPLY.
This is the style of all govt bodies, you complain, we reply, just say sorry lor, what more do you want. SGH' s so-called reply smacks of ARROGANCE and INSINCERITY. Come on, Prof Wong, you can do better than that.
Posted by: fossanoit at Sat Jul 10 11:01:48 SGT 2010

I wonder what kind of moral ethics this Wong fellow has.
I also wonder what kind of 'family education' this Wong fellow has received from his parents.
I most of all wonder what kind of moral values he is going to instill into his children.
A doctor who cannot even apologise sincerely, but talk like a pastor who 'stand corrected' (and erected) simply has no soul. Sh!t doctor.

Posted by: Stormrider65 at Sat Jul 10 10:36:04 SGT 2010

How did the hospital win the Worldwide Award for excellence highlighted in the papers recently ??

Associate Professor Wong Wai Keong
Head, Department of General Surgery
Singapore General Hospital
Head of Department ??

What a joke.
Posted by: SammiVellu at Sat Jul 10 09:52:11 SGT 2010

Say Sorry with positive action to show that SGH has a customer retention policy...... like refund all fees incurred by patient who experience and suffered as a result in lapse of service.
Posted by: kokoobird at Sat Jul 10 09:39:24 SGT 2010

Agree with all the above comments. This reply is equivalent to a none reply.
Posted by: travelersg at Sat Jul 10 09:32:02 SGT 2010


  1. I don't fully agree with fossanoit and travelersg. A none reply is better than a sheer neglect to reply, like many government units are reacting. They welcome feedbacks, but they do not bother to reply. If we persist, they just give a non-relevant reply. If we insist on a proper reply, we end up receiving a reply that they have given a reply or repeat it. If we bring up the case to a higher authority or their supervisory unit, the answer is they are not in a position to intervene. Worse still, on being queried, they are protective enough in the final reply, saying that the case will not be entertained further, and so officially close the case and ignore further communication.

    I had an extremely bad experience like what I described above. In case any government officers care to know my story, I'll be glad (or sad) to disclose my case of prolonged grievances.

    By comparison, I'll be more or less satisfied with SHG's reply "sorry for the lapse in service ..."

  2. Hmmm.....perhaps A.Prof Wong could have said that he would or has contacted Ms. Chong and explained the real reason or the lapse of service as he mentioned in the published replied letter.

    Hey, there was another forum from another reader about doctor's bedside manner.....that was a good piece of letter too :D

  3. It is really a judgement call how much to say or not to say. I think Prof Wong came across as being curt. Pity. But I am glad he apologised instead of giving excuses.
    Thanks for comment, Shionge