SINGAPORE: A group of healthcare professionals who served on the frontlines of Singapore’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic have issued an open letter on social media, alleging that they were left out of the list of awardees who were honoured with the COVID-19 resilience medals.

Last December, the Government announced that about 99,000 frontliners and 800 teams would receive the Covid-19 Resilience Medal and Certificate in honour of their substantive contributions during the pandemic. The award is meant to recognise and pay tribute to the many thousands whose contributions and sacrifices saw Singapore through the pandemic.

Amid news reports that some recipients are hawking their medals for profit on e-commerce platforms, a group of healthcare workers have claimed that their names are missing from the list of awardees.

The open letter, addressed to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and his ministry, was published online by The Honest Healthcare Worker’s Instagram page. The letter stated:

“While others were selling their medals, we never received ours. Our names were missed out on the list of awardees even though we served with our colleagues in the Covid wards from the very beginning.

“We are doctors who served in the pandemic isolation wards. We are allied health professionals that went into the pandemic wards to provide rehabilitation to patients with Covid.

“We are nurses who were seconded by agencies to provide care and administer medication to Covid patients in the pandemic wards. We are the ambulance drivers of 993 who transported Covid patients to and fro from Transitional Care Facilities and the hospitals. There’s more of us – too many to name.

“One by one, our colleagues were being called up to receive their awards and we waited our turn. It never came. We looked up our names on the full list of awardees released by the Prime Minister’s Office and we couldn’t find ourselves there. Our colleagues were confused. We were providing direct care together on the front when Covid first hit us till it became endemic. We were there. How is it that we were forgotten?

“We were never told about the nomination process or the criteria to qualify. We just waited our turn, expecting that we would be recognised but our turns never came. Our names were omitted while senior doctors who refused to enter the pandemic wards were awarded medals. Many others who never provided direct care for Covid patients were honoured. If they were, even more so, why weren’t we?

“We know in our hearts that we did our part. We’re not even looking for additional monetary rewards as some do, although it would have been much appreciated. We don’t resent those who received the awards even if they weren’t in the wards.

“All we wish for is to be recognised and remembered for the sacrifices we made. To take our rightful place on the list alongside our colleagues. So that our children will find our names when they look back one day and know that we served our country and did our duty when Singapore needed us most. For all we’ve done, we deserve to be remembered.”

Singaporeans responding to the open letter online indicated that the gap is due to the failure of the leaders of healthcare teams to submit their team’s names to the authorities.

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Reddit user u/sfushimi said, “Healthcare worker here. Completely true, MOHH (in charge of all junior doctors in Singapore) missed out on nominating a whole bunch of their employees, who were obviously staffing the pandemic wards all the time. This is not some isolated case. Not surprised if other organisations are equally dysfunctional.”

They said, “Meanwhile, “senior doctors who refused to step into the pandemic wards” get the medal, because their nomination was by the hospital which didn’t mess up.”

Another Reddit user, u/everydayman33 added: “From what I heard from a friend, the nominations is submitted by the boss or hod. Hence, if the boss don’t like you or genuinely miss out on your name then you won’t be given.”

u/-BabysitterDad- summed up the sense of injustice the frontliners must be feeling, with a comment that said: “If this is indeed true then it’s sad. Not being recognised for your hard work and sacrifices is one thing. Not being recognised while others who didn’t contribute get awards – that sucks.”

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The Independent Singapore has approached the Health Ministry for comment.

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