The ostensible reason for the reluctance to name the officers punished for their role/inaction in the SGH case is that doing so could breed a culture of blame. Instead, we should, according to Minister for Health, Minister Gan, encourage a “learning culture to make our hospitals as safe as possible for the patients”.
I don’t get it.
Name automatically means shame meh? Why leh? Just because they rhyme? You mean after naming cannot lead to a learning culture meh? Why not?
If we follow Minister Gan’s logic, that the mere act of naming the officers punished would result in a blame culture and impede the development of a learning culture, then SAF and MHA siao liao la. They don’t have learning culture la. Every time there has been a training accident that led to death or serious injury, SAF would name the officers involved and inform the public about the punishment given out. When Mas Selamat escaped from Whitley detention centre, MHA didn’t exactly name the officers punished, but MHA did reveal the ranks and appointments of those punished. So SAF and MHA no longer have learning culture already is it?
Oh no no… you see ah… “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 to come.”
Wah… liddat also can ah. Then those who commit crime can just say they carry with them the pain and regret of what they’ve done then ok liao is it?
Oh but those are criminals! Different. That’s one defence of Minister Gan’s comments that I’ve seen online. If got criminal intent, then name and shame! If don’t have, then cannot!
Ok… So… we shouldn’t name any of the taxi drivers who were involved in accidents that resulted in death too right? Because I’m sure they didn’t have any criminal intent. It’s not like they intended to kill people… You think they are playing GTA in real life ah? Yet… we do name those taxi drivers. How much you want to bet that the name of the taxi uncle who killed the cardboard auntie will be in the media soon?
Why is it then that we name alleged criminals? Mind you, they are often named the moment they are charged, rather than when they have been found guilty.
One reason perhaps is that naming alleged criminals is already some form of a deterrence. Similarly, naming the officers punished, or at least doing what MHA did and releasing their rank and what they were in charge of, and exactly why they were punished would serve as a deterrence to other public officers. Or, let’s frame it in another way. It would serve as a lesson for other officers to be learnt.
How can we learn to do better if we don’t even know what was done wrong? Isn’t knowing what was done wrong a good starting point to build a learning culture? Not just for MOH and medical professionals. But also in general for other public officers: “Look… xx officer did this and that. That resulted in such and such screw up in this and that way. As a result, he kena this or that punishment. So you ah… don’t do this and that hor!” So… Yes… naming could be shaming and could lead to a blame culture. BUT. Naming could also be crucial to learning.
Ah… but cannot like that. If you name and shame, then next time other health care workers won’t report mistakes for fear of being punished. That would lead to greater problems and more deaths etc. That’s what MP for Jurong GRC, Tan Wu Meng said on his Facebook post.
Er… Dr Tan… why you don’t trust your fellow healthcare professionals to have moral courage and integrity leh? If they really don’t have the moral courage and integrity to admit to slip ups because they are afraid to be named and “shamed”, then the problem is a lot deeper and bigger is it not? Then the right question to ask is what the fuck went wrong with our education system at every stage that we haven’t inculcated the right values into our people?
I think that Minister Gan’s “reasons” are cop outs. It obfuscates the issue with cheap cliches. NCMP Leon Perera had the best concluding remark to this incident on his Facebook page: “This is not about the allocation of blame but ensuring a culture of public accountability and bolstering public confidence in Singapore’s healthcare system.”
Name so that we ensure a culture of public accountability, name so that we can create a learning culture.
[Featured image: Gan Kim Yong speaking in Parliament. Image from CNA]