Statistics have confirmed PAP’s planning has been overrated. Singaporeans have been misled for decades, no thanks to state propaganda and a system of no accountability, even for epic screw ups.
1 Where’s PAP’s long term planning?
According to MOH annual report 2001, the number of hospital beds grew from 4,150 in 1980 to 6,079 in 2000. (pg 91)
Image edited to exclude IMH figures.
By 2014, the total number of hospital beds at the 7 public hospital had increased by only 2,500 to 6598.
Hospital beds in 2014
Although the total population had increased by 3.055 million (see table below) in 34 years, the PAP increased the number of hospital beds by a mere 2500! Where is the common sense from our million-dollar perm secs and ministers? Are we supposed to be thankful for their initiative to be warded in tents and along hospital corridors?
|Year||No. of beds||Citizens||Foreigners||Total Pop.|
2 There was actually no long-term planning
As has been mentioned in an earlier post, URA’s 1991 Plan projected a population of 4 million after 2031. Swiss standard Goh Chok Tong, ex PM, managed to achieve this by 2000, 31 years ahead. There was really no long-term planning.
From 2000 to 2010, the number of hospital beds had remained unchanged while the population had increased by about 1 million. There was clearly no long-term planning.
No wonder there was a severe hospital bed crunch where certain operations had to be delayed for months in 2010.
3 Planning for medical tourism while ignoring of citizens’ well being
With total control of public resources for more than 3 decades, the never-mind-what-the-people-think PAP became focused on only generating profits for Singapore Inc, ie medical tourism.
Higher profits = Higher GDP = Higher remuneration and bonuses. In 2008, ministers, perm secs and even our ceremonial president received 19 months bonuses.
The Economic Review Committee, set up in 2001, had accepted the Healthcare Services Working Group’s (HSWG) recommendation to position Singapore as the Healthcare Hub of Asia. PAP became focused on the number of foreign patients, their added value to our GDP and the “lost opportunity”; it has never been concerned about citizens’ healthcare needs.
PAP’s “lost opportunity” (pg 7)
4 Today’s hospital bed crunch due to poor planning last century
If Goh Chok Tong did plan for a 100,000 annual rate of population increase, he should have communicated this to former health ministers and perm secs. In between 1997 and 2010, more hospitals should have been constructed. Their planning stage would have been in the 1990’s under health ministers Yeo Cheow Tong (1988 to 1990, acting only, 1990 to 1994, real minister), George Yeo (1994 to 1997) and Lim Hng Kiang (1999 to 2003).
These 3 ministers must have been sleeping on the job while Khaw Boon Wan, who took over from 2003 to 2011, deluded himself into believing we had an affordable and sound system. We still don’t.
After being Health Minister for 7 years, Khaw was still totally disconnected from the reality of ordinary citizens ie many Singaporeans had to forgo unaffordable medical treatment. Hmm… how could my polyclinic visit cost more than a heart bypass operation? Shouldn’t medical treatment be free for all common ailments if a heart bypass really cost only $8?
5 How many A and B1 class beds are used for medical tourism?
According to Dr Tan Lip Hong, a GP working in the heartlands for 19 years, PAP has been “under-investing in healthcare infrastructure for decades”. On a visit to the CGH last year, he had observed “A and B1 class beds were only about half filled”.
This is not unexpected as $390 per day room rate in an A class ward is unaffordable to most Singaporeans. In order to fill A class beds, “our restructured hospitals actually send missions to Myanmar, the Middle East and Africa to advertise our services”.
6 How many beds are used for medical tourism?
The PAP has not been very upfront on the abuse of restructured hospitals for medical tourism. In his parliamentary reply to NCMP Gerald Giam, Health Minister Gan remembered “..foreign visitors take up less than 2% of our hospital beds..” This gives the impression that negligible public resources were used when in fact there was already a shortage for locals. How could the PAP still think of medical tourism when citizens are already suffering because of a chronic shortage of hospital beds?
In 2010, CGH had occasionally experienced 100% bed occupancy rate. In 2014, CGH’s CEO confirmed “its bed occupancy rate has crossed 100% for certain periods… some patients have waited more than 24 hours ..” One patient waited 48 hours for a B2 bed and couldn’t bathe for 2 days.
To ordinary citizens, whenever the hospital bed occupancy rate goes above 80%, it’s as good as 100%. This is because 22% of beds in public hospitals are non-subsidised and therefore unaffordable. If they are not meant for medical tourism, most should have been converted into lower class beds..
7 PAP still planning to fail
In Jan 2014, Minister Gan said he would try to resolve the bed shortage issue with an additional “1,900 acute hospital beds..” by 2020, bringing the total number of acute hospital beds to around 8,500. Did Gan remember the population will have increase by 600,000 in 2020, based on an annual increase of 100,000? It is likely we need 8,500 beds today and not in 2020. (see table below)
|2020||6 mil||8,500 (est)|
Has the PAP taken into account our ageing population and increased healthcare needs? Are acute general hospitals prepared to handle an emergency which affect hundreds/thousands of people?
With total control over the demand (population growth, tourists) and supply (public resources, tax dollars) in a 716 sq/km little red dot, planning for our healthcare needs should have been a breeze. Instead, our talented scholar ministers and perm secs somehow blundered.
Our healthcare system is screwed up by the PAP because:
– PAP has no long-term planning
– PAP’s priority is on profiting from public healthcare infrastructure, ie medical tourism
– PAP’s priority is not our healthcare needs.
PAP has engaged in propaganda to create the illusion of an affordable, world class healthcare enjoyed by citizens and showcases this to the world. PAP has become a victim of its own propaganda.
So long as there is no accountability, there will be more blunders from the PAP and, rest assured, citizens will be paying the price.