A member of the Sars Expert Committee yesterday accused the government of having been indifferent to the suffering of patients and the families of the victims during the disease outbreak. The accusation came as the government announced it planned to set up a contingency relief fund for families of the 299 people who died in the outbreak, as well as recovered patients who might suffer long-term effects, such as health problems arising from the side effects of drugs or mental scars. Committee member Rosie Young Tse-tse, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said: 'The government was very indifferent and did not have enough care for the people. I guess the whole government should learn ... I am very touched by Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Amoy Gardens residents, including a baby. It is very important to have the sincerity.' The experts found there were 'significant shortcomings of system performance during the early days of the epidemic', but the committee did not find any individual 'deemed to be culpable of negligence, lack of diligence or maladministration'. Speaking on TVB yesterday, Professor Young defended the report against criticism from the public. She said: 'It was prepared out of the panel members' conscience and professional knowledge, so it should have the credibility'. Hong Kong's hospital and health chiefs both came out in their own defence yesterday. Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung admitted shortcomings, but strongly denied any mistakes in handling the outbreak. Speaking on a radio programme, Dr Leong said: 'Personally I believe I have not done enough [in handling the outbreak] but I don't think I have made any mistakes.' Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong said he had considered resignation. Asked whether he should be held responsible, the beleaguered health, welfare and food chief said: 'Many people may suggest that I should resign. But does it serve the best interest of the community?'