NOTICE PAPER NO. 1852
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON OR AFTER 21 APRIL 2023
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song
MP for Aljunied GRC
Question No. 4437
To ask the Minister for Health (a) what is the range of consequences that public healthcare institutions (PHIs) can impose on patients who abuse or harass healthcare workers; (b) how are these specific consequences made known to patients, apart from general notices that abuse of staff is not tolerated; (c) in each of the last three years, how many times have patients been prematurely discharged due to such behaviour; and (d) how do PHIs ensure the well-being of such patients.
1 In accordance with the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup for the Prevention of Abuse and Harassment of Healthcare Workers, MOH will work with public healthcare clusters to develop the details of the standardised zero-tolerance policy. This will be completed in the second half of 2023 and will include guidelines to help institutions protect staff from abuse and harassment, while fulfilling the duty of care for patients in need.
2 In particular, as explained during the announcement of the policy on 17 March, for patients who require urgent care, care will be delivered regardless. Likewise, patients will only be discharged when clinically assessed to be ready to do so.
3 The suggestion that hospitals may prematurely discharge patients due to the zero tolerance against abuse policy creates a false dilemma. The great majority of patients are respectful and appreciative to healthcare workers. As for the very small minority who are abusive, they typically do not require urgent care and may not even be patients. It is also not difficult to identify such behavior and actions, which the common man or woman will find unacceptable. As for the rare instances where a patient requiring urgent care is abusive, we will manage them sensitively, and as was also previously explained, care will be delivered as needed.
4 Ultimately, the zero-tolerance policy against abuse is about drawing a line between right and wrong and being fair to healthcare workers and the great majority of patients.