Hospitals give too much sick leave for injuries: Bosses

Hospitals give too much sick leave for injuries: Bosses

BOSSES are crying foul that foreign workers are getting too much medical leave from hospitals, which in turn insist that their doctors are simply doing their jobs.

More than 10 companies in the marine and construction industries showed The Straits Times injury reports from the last two years of 20 foreign workers, who received several months to a year off for cuts and fractures.

For instance, Sin Norm Engineering highlighted how one of its workers, who fractured his finger in March last year, was given one day's medical leave and a few days of light duty after an operation at Jurong's West Point Hospital, which is near shipyards.

But when he went to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on his own, he received nearly a year of medical leave.

The employers believe these workers exaggerate their injuries to fool doctors.

"Some of them can act better than film stars," said Mr S. Jiwa, director of Mobco Marine.

One of his workers who received six days of medical leave from West Point Hospital after fracturing his hand in August, got almost four months' leave from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

Kiat Seng Shipbuilding and Engineering director James Lee said: "They can walk fast and hop off and on lorries. But in front of the doctors, they will suddenly become weak."

In another case, a worker employed by Guan Soon Heng Marine Engineering cut his finger at work in February last year and got a day's medical leave from Gleneagles Medical Centre. But subsequent visits to Changi General Hospital (CGH) and SGH got him almost seven months off work.

When contacted, hospitals rebutted claims that their doctors are too lenient in issuing medical leave, insisting that everything is done objectively.

They also reviewed the medical certificates issued by their doctors for the above three cases, and found them to be appropriate. "The duration of medical leave depends on the specialist's clinical assessment of the injury, test results and relevant medical history available," said Dr Andrew Chin, who heads the department of hand surgery at SGH.

"It also depends on what the patient has communicated to the doctor about his nature of work and environment."

TTSH head of orthopaedic surgery Ganesan Naidu said: "Fractures of the hand would normally take a few months to heal sufficiently to allow for heavy duty work after surgery."

Referring to the Guan Soon Heng case, a CGH spokesman explained that the injury was "more serious than a minor cut", adding that hand injuries can be more complicated than they seem.

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