Help to keep health care affordable: Gan

A single-bed room in Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, which has started accepting patients from Tan Tock Seng Hospital with acute but stable conditions in a pilot programme aimed at easing an ongoing bed crunch.
PHOTO: Help to keep health care affordable: Gan

SINGAPORE - Both private hospitals and patients have been urged to play a part in helping to keep health care affordable.

Yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong encouraged the private sector to do more to address concerns about affordability.

He added, however, that the general public also needed to make informed decisions.

"The most expensive treatment may not be the best," he warned.

"The latest technology they read about on the Internet may not always be better, or may not even be suitable for their conditions."

He was speaking at the official opening of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, which started operations in July 2012.

The hospital, operated by health-care group Parkway Pantai, has treated more than 20,000 patients so far. About 70 per cent of these patients were local, Mr Gan said.

Last month, The Straits Times reported that Mount Elizabeth Novena has started accepting patients from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), in an effort to ease an ongoing bed crunch.

The pilot programme, expected to last between three months and a year, will see up to 20 beds set aside for TTSH patients with acute but stable conditions.

Such patients will not pay more than they would have at TTSH.

"Through such public-private collaborations, we are finding creative ways to make health care more accessible to Singaporeans," Mr Gan said.

Slightly fewer than half of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital's 333 beds are currently operational.

However, Parkway Pantai chairman Mohammed Azlan Hashim said that patient volume has grown significantly over the past financial year.

"To meet the demands of this new level of growth, the hospital is preparing to increase the number of operational wards by the end of 2014," he said.

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