Workers' Party Secretary General and MP for Aljunied GRC , Mr Low Thia Khiang highlighted that the restructured hospitals presently appears to be managed as profit-driven companies. Most of the restructured hospitals around has International Medical Services which solicit business from foreign patients to seek treatment in the hospitals.
He asked the Ministry of Health on what proportion of the overall patient load should private and foreign patients constitute for the restructured hospitals. And also asked who provides and oversees the implementation of the guidelines.
He states that though he understands that the restructured hospitals might see more subsidized patients than private/ foreign patients as a whole, but questions whether if it is the case with individual departments within the hospitals and whether would it justifiable to allocate resource to serve foreign patients, given the current patient load of restructured hospitals.
He highlights that many specialists in restructured hospitals are currently under a remuneration scheme that rewards them for treating private patients, i.e non-subsidized patients which he believes it to be one of the factors that is hindering the hospital to improve the situation of long waiting time, especially for subsidized patients.
He says, ”Despite the long waiting times to consult a specialist in the hospital, there is little incentive for hospital to re-appropriate the ratio of subsidized to private out-patient specialist clinics.”
Subsidized patients might be encouraged to upgrade to a private status to shorten their waiting time.
On retaining of health care professionals in the hospitals, Mr Low views the current remuneration scheme to be a reason of the unequal distribution of workload among specialists that affects the morale of staff and specialists that causes them to leave.
He proposed for other remuneration schemes to be considered to incentivize doctors to treat both subsidized and private patients equally. Such as remuneration being based on the number of patients seen and the complexity of patients.
Read MP Low Thia Khiang's full speech here