In light of several members of Singapore’s parliament expressing concern about constituents’ inability to secure appointments at local polyclinics, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is planning to review the queueing and online appointment systems.
Senior Minister of State for Health, Janil Puthucheary, confirmed that the MOH would consider the suggestions raised. They included integrating general practitioner clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) into the online booking process.
MPs Raise Concerns Over Polyclinic Appointments
Members of Singapore’s parliament expressed growing concern about constituents’ inability to secure appointments at local polyclinics. This has prompted the Ministry of Health (MOH) to take action. The MPs reported that some residents, particularly seniors, struggled to secure online appointments, and even queueing in person often failed to secure a slot.
MOH Responds to Growing Concerns
In response to the raised concerns, Senior Minister of State for Health, Janil Puthucheary, confirmed that the MOH would consider suggestions put forward by the MPs. One such proposal included integrating general practitioner clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) into the online booking process, a move aimed at increasing accessibility for all residents, especially the elderly.
Improving Access to Primary Care Services
Dr. Puthucheary acknowledged the high proportion of seniors among polyclinic patients and affirmed the MOH’s commitment to improving access to primary care services. This could potentially include the integration of CHAS clinics into an online booking system, which would streamline the process for patients and ensure better distribution of medical resources.
Suggestions for Systemic Improvements
The MPs also proposed improvements to the queueing system for appointments and a review of the distribution of polyclinic locations. The current distribution has resulted in certain regions, notably the Jurong area, lacking sufficient facilities. The MOH recognized the validity of these concerns and assured that they were considering appropriate measures.
Emphasis on Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Clinics
In an attempt to alleviate the load on polyclinics, the MOH is also advocating for the increased use of CHAS GP clinics. This strategy would not only decrease pressure on polyclinics but also provide patients with more localized and accessible healthcare options.
Prioritizing Urgent Medical Attention
Despite the challenges faced in securing appointments, the MOH reassured the public that urgent medical needs would always be prioritized. A patient without an appointment deemed in need of immediate medical attention will be treated at the polyclinic.
Walk-in Senior Patients and Non-Emergency Cases
Non-emergency cases present a different challenge. When no appointment slots are available, the MOH advises patients to seek care in a planned way by making an appointment with a general practitioner within the community. The conversation also brought up the possibility of prioritizing walk-in senior patients at polyclinics. Additionally, MOH confirmed that they take into account age and mobility during patient assessments.
Clinical Assessment Remains Key
Despite potential changes to the system, the MOH stressed the importance of professional judgment in determining the urgency of patients’ needs. Ultimately, the clinical team at each facility will make the final decision based on the patient’s immediate medical requirements. As Singapore’s healthcare system continues to evolve, the balance between accessibility, patient care, and resource management remains a critical focus.