Hospitals’ foreign patients: Only ‘good’ data, ‘bad’ all missing?


Public institutions should stop giving selective statistics, as it is arguably in a sense like ‘fake news’ or ‘propaganda’ which may only further undermine the already diluted trust of the public in our public institutions 

I refer to the article “Percentage of foreigners admitted to public hospitals falls from 2008” (Sunday Times, Oct 7).

It states that “The percentage of foreigners admitted to public hospitals here last year was lower than that for 2008. The proportion of foreigners among all inpatient and day surgery patients dropped to about 1.5 per cent. That figure was 2.4 per cent in 2008.”

One of the primary reasons why foreign patients in public hospitals have decreased in proportion to the total number of patients, compared to 2008, may be because  as I understand it – the policy was changed in October 2007, such that foreign patients who choose subsidised wards may have to pay as much as 5 times that of a Singaporean patient.

Don’t you find it rather strange that we are told only of the 2008 data to compare with now?

What about the percentage in the last year, last 3 and 5 years?

As to “Responding to queries from The Sunday Times, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said: “Only a small proportion of the hospitals’ patients were brought in via contracted overseas service providers… The majority of patients they see are locals” – What is the percentage of foreign patients in the non-subsidised wards, instead of all wards?

What is the total sum of referral fees paid in the last year, last 3 and 5 years?

Also, why is there no answer to the following question asked?

“This is arguably even more ludicrous, given that the payment of referral fees to third parties has been barred since December 2016 (“Doctors barred from paying percentage of fees to 3rd-party agents”, Today, Dec 14, 2016)”?

After all, isn’t this arguably, in the public interest, and in line with the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the trust of the public?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.