The Caritas executives' punishment was described yesterday as unfair by the legislator for the medical sector, who questioned why no one from the Hospital Authority's head office had been asked to share the blame. Leung Ka-lau said it was acceptable for the authority to discipline the hospital's chief executive, Ma Hok-cheung, for poor handling of the incident. But he asked why no one at head office who helped handle the case had to share the responsibility. The incident was widely regarded as a public relations disaster for the authority. Dr Ma told a press briefing the hospital receptionist had complied with guidelines by asking the son of the dying man to dial 999. And accident and emergency head Ng Fu said the hospital had given its 'best care' to the man. 'Dr Ma did not do very well in his public communications during the press conference, but someone from the authority head office must have been involved in disseminating information to the public about the incident,' Dr Leung said. 'The authority head office knew that the hospital had a plan to hold a press conference and it should have done something about it. So why did no one from the head office share the blame?' Dr Leung said it was also unfair for the authority to punish Dr Ng. 'I understand that Dr Ng was talking to the press as an expert. The authority is not obliged to agree with his views, but it did not mean he should be disciplined.' A senior Hospital Authority source said Dr Ma's mistake was to make his staff look bad in the public eye. 'Dr Ma tried to protect his staff, but in the wrong way. He made the public turn against the hospital.' The incident came as an alert on crisis management to other hospital executives, he said. 'A hospital chief should show a caring attitude to both frontline staff and the community. When there is a mistake, a chief executive should have the courage to admit it.' Patients' Rights Association spokesman Tim Pang Hung-cheong welcomed the disciplinary action against Dr Ma. 'It is a rather heavy punishment on a senior hospital executive because his reputation is at stake. The message is very clear, that the primary duty of a medical worker is to save life.' Public Doctors Association president Ho Pak-leung said the incident was a reminder to all doctors and hospital staff not to follow guidelines blindly. It was also time for the authority to review corporate culture.