The Business Times
Doctors accused of having sex with patients agree not to contact female patients outside of work
April 22, 2020

Chan Herng Nieng - psychiatrist

Chan Herng Nieng – psychiatrist

[SINGAPORE] The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has asked the two doctors accused of taking advantage of vulnerable patients for sex to refrain from contacting their female patients outside of work.

A woman had complained to the SMC, the medical watchdog, in June 2018 that psychiatrist Chan Herng Nieng and surgeon Julian Ong had taken advantage of vulnerable female patients and colleagues “to satisfy their immoral desires”.

Dr Ong, whose private practice is a 70 per cent-owned subsidiary of Catalist-listed HC Surgical Specialists, had sued the woman for defamation but lost his case on April 3. The district court judge said the woman’s statements were justified and awarded her costs.

In a statement on Wednesday, the SMC said: “When the judgment from the defamation suit was brought to the SMC’s attention in April 2020, the SMC had acted immediately to secure signed undertakings from both Dr Chan and Dr Ong to refrain from contacting female patients for purposes outside the scope of their medical practice, pending the completion of the disciplinary process against them.”

It is not stated when the SMC took this action.

On Monday, Parkway withdrew Dr Ong’s accreditation, so he can no longer use the group’s four hospitals – Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena and Parkway East – and facilities for his patients, pending the outcome of the complaint.

However, Dr Ong will be allowed to continue practising at HC Surgical’s heartland centres.

An article in The Straits Times (ST) had mentioned that the SMC had seven sex-related complaints against doctors in 2018, of which four had been carried over from 2017. Only one had been dealt with in 2018 while the other six were carried over to 2019.

The SMC said: “Of the seven cases pertaining to sexual offences mentioned in the ST article, three have been concluded and four are ongoing. In the four that are ongoing, the SMC has taken precautionary measures to protect the patients.”

It explained that it “has a standing policy to put in place safeguards to protect patients of doctors being investigated for sexual offences”, as the “protection of patients is SMC’s utmost priority”.

It added that its complaints committee is already investigating the complaint made against both Dr Chan and Dr Ong.

SMC said it “continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and medical professional bodies to implement the recommendations made by the MOH Workgroup to improve its disciplinary processes and to minimise delays in dealing with complaints”.

Last week, news of Dr Ong’s failed defamation suit sent shares of HC Surgical on an erratic ride.

The counter fell S$0.01 or 2.6 per cent to close at S$0.38 on Wednesday.