SIMON LIM: In Singapore, nobody sells blood to the hospitals or the Blood Bank. We donate our blood free charge to them in order that they can use our donated blood to save lives. In my younger days, I was a regular blood donor too and I applause and support blood donation because it is a selfless and noble act that people can do to help another human being. Of course blood donated by members of the public cannot be used right away and certain steps and processes are involved to make those donated blood fit for purpose. All those steps and processes involve costs.
My question to MOH (Ministry of Health) was a simple question. Apart from billing the patients who receive blood from blood transfusion the costs of collecting, processing, testing of each unit of blood to ensure that it is safe for transfusion as well as all other related costs, both at the blood bank and the hospital levels, as a pap government’s policy, do our government hospitals also make a profit out of public’s donated blood? I repeat. Apart from billing the patients who receive blood from blood transfusion the costs of collecting, processing, testing of each unit of blood to ensure that it is safe for transfusion and all other related costs, do our government hospitals make a profit out of public’s donated blood?
My question to them was a simple and straightforward question, however, their reply to me was anything but simple and straightforward. They completely and conveniently ignore my question about whether they make a profit from public’s donated blood. What they have stated in their e-mail were ” 1) MOH subsidies the cost incurred by the blood bank in processing the blood. 2) There is a further subsidy at the hospital level, depending on the patients’ choice of ward and mean-test status. 3) Patients who are PRs will also be subsidised at the hospitals but at a lower level then for citizens. 4) Should you need to obtain the charges of the services/procedure, you may wish to contact the practicing public hospitals for advice on this matter. 5) Patients who experience financial challenges to manage their medical bills can approach the Medical Social Workers” etc.
I have repeatedly assured the two MOH officers whom I spoke with that “Profit” is not a dirty word and if our MOH or their hospitals only bill the patients to recover all their costs that they have incurred to carry out a safe blood transfusion with no profit markup whatsoever, just say No. Why and/or what is it so difficult for them to do so. I don’t understand. And if there is a profit markup after deducting all their costs, just say Yes and we make a profit from public’s donated blood. When blood is donated by members of the public who want to do good for society, then questions of ethics, moral and transparency must never be compromised.
The public must not be kept in the dark if indeed their donated blood is used by our government hospitals to earn profits. This bit, MOH owes every single member of the public who donate blood free of charge to do good. I want MOH and all government hospitals to understand that if there is nothing to hide, then there is nothing to fear. That is the litmus test and the true spirit and standard of professionalism and transparency, not only in words but in deeds. My exchanges with MOH on this blood donation and related issues suggest that the pap government falls far short.