2020 was a year with no comparison for healthcare. Of course, Covid-19 was the every visible elephant in the room but there were other memorable incidents and people that managed to share some of the limelight as well. This hobbit recaps this momentous year with the 2021 Hobbit Awards. And the winners are……
Circular King Award
A total of 244 Circulars were issued by MOH in 2020. They were issued by either our new DMS, Prof Kenneth Mak or his lieutenants. If you think about it, there are 366 days in 2020 (leap year), 104 weekend-days and 11 public holidays. That leaves us with about 251 working days (give or take a few). In other words, we had to keep abreast with about one new MOH circular per working day! That’s incredible. I think the current DMS has issued more circulars in one year than any of his predecessors. He is this hobbit’s choice for Circular King Award.
Superman Baby Award
In the beginning of every version of a Superman movie, the opening scenes invariably involve the parents of Superman putting the Superman baby into a spacecraft. The spacecraft then blasts off planet Krypton for Earth and within seconds Krypton explodes.
That about sums up the previous DMS, Prof Benjamin Ong. The first case of Covid-19 hit Singapore on 23 Jan 20. His last day in MOH as DMS was 31 Jan before the current DMS took over and MOH promptly exploded with the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore. Prof Ong is a deserving winner of the Superman Baby Award.
Best Communication Award
This goes to our wordsmiths in the civil service and political leadership for coming up with the term “Circuit Breaker” in lieu of the commonly used “lockdown”. The acronym “CB” is now widely used. More interestingly, on 21 Apr 20, it was officially announced that CB measures would be tightened. Only in Singapore do we tighten already a very tight CB.
Most Useless Relic Award
Remember long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was this one colour code to rule them all – DORSCON? Well nobody talks about it anymore. Although it has a few colour grades to the Code, no one takes it seriously when we realised ‘Red’ is a hypothetical, mythological colour that will NEVER be used even when we faced the closest thing to Armageddon (aka a tightened CB – please see above) and more than a thousand new Covid-19 cases were popping up a day.
DORSCON should be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom to be destroyed forever like all useless relics.
Best Witchcraft Award
This prestigious award goes to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s GoBusiness Portal for deciding in an incomprehensible and opaque way who is an essential worker and how many staff is a clinic entitled to. How is a GP clinic assistant deemed to be an unessential worker is just beyond this hobbit.
Animal Advocate of the Year Award
This goes to the genius that decided that “basic” pet grooming services could resume on 1 June 2020, even before the resumption of “human” aesthetic medicine.
Best Cartoon Comedy Award
This award undoubtedly goes to the folks who approved the Virus Vanguard, who existed for about a day before it was disbanded. Even so, the timeless superhero legends of Circuit Breaker, MAWA Man, Care-Leh Dee, Dr Disinfector and Fake News Buster will remain etched in the collective psyches of Singaporeans forever. It shows that some decision makers in the government have a (strange?) sense of humour/reality.
This hobbit confesses that he may still be suffering from Virus Vanguard’s Dissolution-related PTSD.
The Special Destiny Award
This goes to the Minister for Manpower and her team for pitching to us the seminal point that the outbreaks in our foreign worker dormitories were inevitable. This hobbit now believes that we were just fulfilling our destiny when 47% of workers (152,794) living in foreign worker dormitories were infected.
Best Educator Award
This definitely goes to Minister Chan Chun Sing for educating a younger generation of Singaporeans on the use of the term “sia suay”. Even an old coot like me hasn’t used that in a long time.
He also educated us on the unnecessary use of masks and hoarding of toilet paper, eggs and instant noodles, amongst other things.
Evidence-Based Infection Control Award
This very relevant and timely Award goes to the Elections Department of Singapore for demonstrating with strong evidence during General Elections 2020 what most healthcare workers already knew – you can’t put on gloves when your hands are wet with disinfectant/alcohol/water etc.
Best Voodoo Healthcare Award
This goes to the Health Insurance industry, in particular the Integrated Plan (IP) providers for
- Not respecting fee benchmarks that were issued by MOH
- Selling IPs to 70% of Singaporeans when the combined hospital beds market share of private hospitals and A and B1 bed classes restructured hospitals is only about half of that
- Empanelling only about 20% of specialists in the private sector and not telling potential IP customers that they can only choose from a very limited pool of specialists.
On the other hand, they are still telling the public to buy more IPs when there is really no capacity to fulfil demand down the road.
If this isn’t voodoo healthcare, this hobbit doesn’t know what is.
Company of the Year Award
DoctorsXdentists (DXD) won this hands down. In this one year, they managed to achieve the following:
- Misrepresented MOH compliance officials
- Irritated the hell out of several professional bodies such as Academy of Medicine, SMA and CFPS
- Used information from the SMC doctors’ directory without SMC permission
This is the most breath-taking healthcare company we have seen in a long time.