I refer to the article “Singapore’s care model needs to be changed to resolve hospital bed crunch: Gan Kim Yong” (Channel NewsAsia, Jan 20).
Solving “Beds crunch” means have to change “care model”?
It states that “Resolving the hospital bed crunch is not just about expanding capacity, but it is also about changing Singapore’s care model, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Speaking on the bed crunch situation, Mr Gan said it is important that people do not head to the Emergency Department if their medical condition is not critical.
He said: “If we are able to implement the Health Care 2020 capacity development plan, (and) at the same time restructure and change our care model to one that is less reliant on acute hospital beds (but) more reliant on community care as well as home care…If we do all this together, we will have sufficient capacity going forward.””
Ignoring the obvious reasons for the “beds crunch”?
I could not help laughing when I read the above. Instead of acknowledging the obvious – that there was no increase in the total number of hospital beds in Singapore for the last 12 years or so, despite an increase of about 1.4 million in the population – and our public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP being probably the lowest in the world – we blame it on “our care model”.
In a sense, the real irony of these remarks may be that we seem to be blaming Singaporeans for the “beds crunch”.
I then wanted to check the latest health financing statistics from the Ministry of Health web site.
MOH “health financing” page is “blank”?
To my surprise, the ‘health financing” page is now blank with just the words “Last updated on 18 Jun 2013″.
If I recall correctly, this page used to say that our public healthcare expenditure was 1.4% of GDP in 2012.
Failing to plan for an ageing population?
As to the statement by Mr Gan of the stabilizing of the the bed occupancy rate at hospitals but the bed space will continue to remain tight due to an ageing population.
I could not help but to laugh some more, because we may seem to forget the obvious need to plan ahead in the light of an ageing population, instead of using the ageing population as an excuse for an apparent lack of planning.
By Leong Sze Hian
Public forum on 15 February
Come join your fellow Singaporeans for a free public forum – Pre-Budget Debate 2014: Singaporeans pay the highest taxes, get the least benefits – on 15 February, 2 to 5 pm. Venue: TKP Conference Center Raffles Place. (Budget 2014 will be announced in Parliament on 21 February)
The speakers at the forum will explain why from a cashflow perspective – the Government does not spend a single cent on healthcare, CPF and HDB.