Sick leave ploy: Doctors at fault too?

SINGAPORE - Mr Seah Leong Khai ("Sick leave ploy due to too little annual leave"; Dec 22) refers to the "sick leave ploy" as one of the ills of our work ethic, and suggests that promoting healthy lifestyles and rewarding those who do not report sick will help ameliorate the problem.

The promotion of a healthy lifestyle is sadly ineffective in stopping those who are more interested in faking illness than in keeping healthy.

Also, while rewarding those who do not take sick leave seems like a good incentive, it may contribute to the inhumane practice of discriminating against those who are genuinely sick and need to stay at home.

An honour system, where employees can call in sick for a number of times a year without medical certification, will not work either, as the recalcitrant person will use up his "quota" without hesitation before faking illness in front of a doctor for yet more medical leave.

The problem is acute in both private and public clinics, and the root of it lies with the black sheep who exploit medical benefits to the hilt, abetted by acquiescent physicians.

It will help if doctors have the moral courage and conviction to objectively deny medical leave where such is not warranted.

Sadly, granting what patients demand is far more expedient for all parties - general practitioners get more patients, and public service doctors have to deal with fewer complaints.

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