SGH has accepted the findings and recommendations of the Independent Review Committee (IRC), appointed by MOH, on the outbreak of hepatitis C virus infection at the Hospital’s renal wards. It has also apologised for the lapses at the hospital, and started on plans to close the gaps identified by the IRC.

Prof Ang Chong Lye, Chief Executive Officer, said: “My colleagues and I deeply regret what happened. I would like to apologise to the patients and their families who have been affected by the outbreak. It has been a hard and humbling lesson but we will learn from this, improve and work tirelessly to ensure that our patients are always safe in our care. We are determined to regain the trust of Singaporeans, whom we have been most privileged to serve.

We thank the Committee for their thorough review. SGH takes a very serious view of what happened and will look into the areas identified by the IRC on top of the enhanced practices and additional measures we have taken since June 2015. Our patients’ safety and well-being are our highest priority.

We have met with all the affected patients and their family members or next-of-kin to provide them our full support. We are grateful for their patience and understanding; and will continue to care for them and assist them with their medical and emotional needs.

There had been concerns from the public on the time we took to announce the cluster of hepatitis C virus infection in our renal wards. SGH has reflected on our response and approach, and acknowledge that we could have done better and escalated the matter earlier to SingHealth and MOH.”

SGH will work closely with the SingHealth Infection Control Audit Taskforce to conduct cross-institution audits to reinforce the standards of infection control practices. SingHealth, the parent organisation of SGH, has also appointed a Report Implementation Committee to follow up on the IRC recommendations. Both these SingHealth committees are led by Prof Tan Kok Hian, SingHealth Group Director, Academic Medicine and Head and Senior Consultant, Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, KKH.

Prof Fong Kok Yong, Chairman, Medical Board, said: “Our top most priority was to ensure that affected patients were given appropriate and timely treatment according to their clinical needs and medical indications. In early June 2015, we reviewed our infection control practices and instituted additional measures. We are thankful that this action was effective in helping to subsequently contain the spread of the infection.

We have learnt from this outbreak that a more robust alert and escalation system at the Hospital has to be in place, with clear definition of roles and individual accountability. SGH will work with MOH to implement the IRC recommendations. We will leave no stone unturned to enhance patient safety, and do all we can to prevent recurrence of such an unfortunate event.”

The immediate task of the SingHealth Report Implementation Committee is to address the recommendations made by the IRC. It will take a proactive audit approach to tighten surveillance and enhance infection control at the affected renal wards. It will also develop and implement the plan for corrective measures as recommended by the IRC and build a robust comprehensive system for infection control.

The Committee will work with MOH to facilitate a cross-institution framework for the detection, investigation and management of uncommon infections. The aim is to implement a sustainable action plan, which will help develop a culture that encourages and enables patient safety – where strict adherence to evidence based infection control is a way of life and embedded in the DNA of our SingHealth institutions.