Patients happy with public hospitals, clinics: Survey

PATIENTS continue to be happy with public healthcare institutions, with more rating them more highly than before, though gripes remain about the wait to see a doctor or for a bed.

Last year, 86 per cent of the 12,469 patients surveyed found services and care at public hospitals, specialist centres and polyclinics in Singapore to be good or excellent, compared with 79 per cent in 2014.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in Yishun again topped the list as a favourite among patients and their families in the annual Patient Satisfaction Survey by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Generally, more people found public sector care and services to their liking, compared with the previous year, with 85 per cent saying they would recommend them to others, up from 82 per cent in 2014.

More people - 72 per cent, up from 69 per cent in 2014 - rated the services as affordable.

But many of the patients surveyed also felt that some aspects of healthcare service, such as waiting times, procedures and facilities, could be improved.

There were also fairly significant gaps between what they consider important and what they feel they received.

For example, 99 per cent of respondents said doctors' knowledge and skills were important but just 88 per cent were satisfied with their experience.

The biggest gap between expectation and satisfaction - 38 percentage points - was in the wait in the emergency department for a bed.

This is largely due to the tight bed situation at public hospitals, with some experiencing occupancy rates of more than 90 per cent. This remains a problem today.

Latest figures showed that on May 31, half the patients at the emergency department of one hospital had to wait more than 5.8 hours for a bed in the wards after the doctor decided to admit them.

There was also a big gap - 34 percentage points - between expectation and experience when it came to the time it took to be seen by a hospital doctor.

Meanwhile, KTPH scored a 91 per cent satisfaction rate, up from 86 per cent in 2014 when it also took the top spot.

The hospital's staff tries to provide "a level of care good enough for our own mothers", said Chew Kwee Tiang, chief executive officer of KTPH.

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) had the lowest satisfaction rate: 81 per cent. But this was better than the 76 per cent it got in 2014.

As for polyclinics, those in the west and run by National Healthcare Group saw their rating jump to 92 per cent from 81 per cent.

The polyclinics in the east and run by SingHealth remained about the same in the eyes of patients, with 85 per cent being satisfied, just half a percentage point up from the previous year.

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