"In this connection, I refer to media reports (“Full house at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital” , ST, Jul 25) that the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital has been full since it opened recently, and that the bed crunch has been so bad in the past couple of years that non-urgent surgery had to be put off, beds placed along corridors and hours spent waiting for an available bed.
According to the Department of Statistics’ Yearbook of Statistics 2010, the number of hospital beds in Singapore, has hardly changed – from 11,742 to 11,663, from 1999 to 2009.
The number of hospitals only increased by one, from 28 to 29.
During the same 10-year period, the population grew from 3.96 to 4.99 million.
Although the Health Mnistry has said that Singapore will not be caught out by a shortage of hospital beds again, even with the net increase of about 400 beds after the expected opening of the 700-bed Jurong General Hospital before 2015, and the closure of the 300-bed Alexandra Hospital, the total number of hospital beds is only expected to be about 12,613, even after adding the 550 beds from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
If not for allowing Medisave to be used for hospitalisation in 12 approved hospitals in Malaysia, since March this year, the shortage of hospital beds may be even worse."
It turned out I wrote something about shift of capacity from public to private hospital and how the govt's plan to be a medical hub for the rich has driven up medical cost much faster than the rise in wages. The govt then implemented means testing to shift the rising cost to Singaporeans to keep its own expenditure down. The article I wrote, together with another in TOC by Leong Sze Hian became material for a Social Studies Revision Guide for Sec 4 to test students on critical thinking. Now some secondary school students will know how to call the govt's bluff on medical care in Singapore.
In an earlier edition of this study guide, Source C was an article from the Straits Times about overcrowding in public hospitals and spare capacity in private hospital and how means testing will push patients from public to private hospitals by eliminating their subsidy. In the latest edition Source C is an SMA article which is more supportive of the govt's argument - people who can afford to pay should not be getting subsidies.
The revision guide also used material from other blogs such as Yawning Bread in a number of critical thinking tests. The author probably figured out you get one side of the story from mainstream media and the other side from the Internet....for critical thinking to take place you need to look at both sides.