KKH, MSF respond on abuse victims being housed in hospitals

SINGAPORE - KKH views every case of suspected child abuse seriously, said its acting head for the Department of Medical Social Work, Ms Mavis Teo.

"The length of stay depends on the complexity of the case and the outcome of social and police investigations. It may range from three days to several weeks for very complex cases," she said.

"KKH works closely with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to identify, manage and care for children who are abused.

"In cases where abuse may not be substantiated, but nonetheless show early signs of safety or well-being issues, early intervention measures are taken to prevent potential abuse.

"The hospital's medical social workers are alerted to carry out initial assessments. The child will be admitted if there are concerns for his safety or if a further assessment is needed," Ms Teo said, adding that the hospital may also refer cases to MSF for investigation.

"During their stay, KKH's medical teams would focus on the children's physical, mental and emotional well-being."

MSF and KKH did not address the question on how many children are taken to the hospital yearly as suspected victims of abuse or how many such children fell sick during their stay.

But they did confirm that the parents are "required to pay for the costs of hospitalisation of their children". Families who find it difficult to pay hospital expenses may ask for assistance from the hospital's medical social worker.

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