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WP calls for stronger response and escalation framework after Hep C outbreak

A stronger response and escalation framework for Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) is required after the outbreak of Hepatitis C at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), said the Workers' Party in a press release on Wednesday.

The Independent Review Committee convened to look into the outbreak – which contributed to the deaths of seven patients – released its report yesterday, citing a combination of overlapping factors, such as poor infection control and sloppy practices at SGH, as leading to the incident. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced that it will put together a taskforce to look at the recommendations of the committee and determine an action plan.

"[W]e urge this taskforce to solicit feedback widely from the medical profession and the broader public," read the WP's statement, which was signed off by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera, who is part of the WP Executive Council's media team. "We also recommend that this taskforce be co-led by a respected, retired healthcare professional to ensure that recommendations are formed from a perspective of sufficient independence from the existing organization structure. This taskforce bears a heavy responsibility as MOH is the last line of defence against failures in any healthcare institution."

The statement went on to lay out WP's own recommendations, such as requiring the taskforce to define "what is timely in moving from potential outbreak recognition to escalation, notification and countermeasures", as well as the role in SingHealth when such incidences occur.

WP also noted that the committee had deemed the time lapse between the briefing of the Director of Medical Services on 3 September and the alerting of the Health Minister on 18 September as having been justified by the need for more investigation. Warning against the setting of "an implicit guideline" in when the Minister and the public are alerted to such incidences, the WP called for explicit guideline to be set in the setting the standard of timeliness in passing information on from one party to the other, and finally to the public.