MOH to add more than 10,000 beds

Patients waiting for a bed on Jan 10, 2014, at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s emergency department, which has 18 cubicles.

The Ministry of Health's (MOH's) priorities in the next five years are to intensify efforts to keep Singaporeans healthy and further boost healthcare standards.

These include raising capacity both in hospitals and at other healthcare facilities, step up efforts to reduce obesity and smoking rates, and work out the details of the standard private Integrated Shield Plan (IP) that will build on MediShield Life.

The six regional health systems - each anchored by a public hospital - will also work on making the transition smoother from acute hospitals to long-term care facilities and patients' homes.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong outlined these plans in an addendum to the President's Address made in Parliament last week, mapping out the goals and policies of the Government's new five-year term.

"We will continue to improve capacity of healthcare services and keep them affordable for Singaporeans," Mr Gan said in a separate statement yesterday.

He became Health Minister in 2011 and, in his first term, he oversaw the launch of MediShield Life, a basic, lifelong health insurance scheme for all Singaporeans.

In that time, the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), which subsidises visits to participating general practitioners (GPs) and dentists, was also expanded.

Around 1.4 million Singaporeans, including members of the pioneer generation, have benefited from the scheme.

Last year saw the opening of new hospitals, nursing homes and senior care centres - notably, the Yishun Community Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and the neighbouring Jurong Community Hospital.

MOH plans to add more than 10,000 beds in acute and community hospitals as well as nursing homes. It will also add more than 7,000 places to community and homecare services, like senior care centres.

Other initiatives include stepping up efforts to help Singaporeans live healthily - including plans to reduce obesity and smoking - and making sure each person has a regular family doctor familiar with his or her needs.

In addition, the ministry will continue to recruit healthcare staff and find ways to improve productivity.

It will also leverage on the new SkillsFuture scheme to strengthen healthcare career paths.

In a separate Addendum, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is the Minister-in-charge of the National Population and Talent Division, said the number of seniors in Singapore is estimated to double to 900,000 by 2030.

Hence, one of the division's tasks will be to balance population growth so that the needs of the ageing population and workforce can be met, he added.

Other efforts targeted at seniors include the new Action Plan for Successful Ageing.

It will give seniors opportunities to learn, volunteer and live well even after retirement.

MOH will implement it.

In his statement, Mr Gan pledged to continue developing new ways to give healthcare services and prepare for future healthcare needs.

"We will also step up efforts to promote healthy living among our people, and help our seniors enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life," he added.

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