SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health unveiled plans on Thursday (Mar 5) to build two polyclinics in Bishan and Bidadari by 2030, as well as a new hospital in the eastern part of Singapore.
Speaking in Parliament during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate on Thursday, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said the new polyclinics will offer similar services as existing ones, including medical treatment for acute conditions, chronic disease management, and women’s and children’s health services.
The two new polyclinics in Bishan and Bidadari will bring the total number of polyclinics in Singapore to 32 by 2030, fulfilling MOH’s previously announced target.
Singapore currently has 20 polyclinics.
MOH also unveiled plans for a new integrated general and community hospital in the eastern part of Singapore by around 2030.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament on Thursday that Changi General Hospital (CGH) is currently the only hospital in that area.
“While we have added significant capacity in CGH through expansion over the years, the healthcare demand has grown substantially as a result of population growth and ageing,” he said.
While the new hospital will include the usual range of hospital services, his ministry also wants to hear what the community would like to see in this new hospital, he said.
“As such, SingHealth, which will be operating this new hospital, will be engaging the community to co-create ideas to better meet the needs of the residents. SingHealth will reach out to the community leaders when they are ready to start their engagement,” he said.
Alexandra Hospital will also be redeveloped, with the first phase scheduled to be completed by 2030.
A spokesperson for the hospital said: “The Alexandra Campus will be brought closer to Stirling Estate, new residential units and the existing estates at Queensway, for better accessibility with seamless connectivity to adjacent residential clusters and the rail corridor.”
Alexandra Hospital’s current site boundary will expand to an estimated 13.1 ha from 12.2 ha, she added.
A medical planner – who among other things looks into where to place medical services and facilities, and efficiency and patient experience – will be appointed in a few months’ time, as part of detailed studies on the hospital’s redevelopment, Alexandra Hospital added. There will be a call of tender for the medical planner soon, she said.
ASSISTED LIVING PILOT
MOH also said it is working with the Ministry of National Development and the Housing & Development Board to develop an assisted living model in public housing.
The pilot will start with one block in Bukit Batok, MOH said.
“The flats will be designed with residents’ future needs in mind, including larger bathrooms and pre-installed senior-friendly fittings such as grab bars,” MOH said.
“These new assisted living flats are meant to provide seniors with a housing option for independent living, with care available if needed, and a gotong royong spirit amongst neighbours,” said Senior Minister of State for Parliament Amy Khor in Parliament on Thursday.
An eldercare centre will be co-located at the block.
Seniors will also receive emergency response around the clock through personal alert buttons installed in flats, communal spaces where they can socialise, and access to a dedicated community manager who will link residents up with services that they require.
MOH will also enhance eldercare centres to address seniors’ social and care needs in an “integrated fashion”.
From this year, MOH will introduce a baseline service model at the roughly 130 Senior Activity Centres and 140 Senior Care Centres.
“The eldercare centres will stitch up and coordinate social-health services for seniors, to ensure that seniors will be able to receive relevant healthcare and social support seamlessly,” MOH said.
The new model will be implemented in phases from this year to 2023, MOH said
COMMUNITY CARE SECTOR TO GET BOOST
To attract and retain manpower in the community care sector, MOH will set aside S$150 million to support community care providers in making salaries more competitive.
“We project that it will benefit up to 4,000 local nurses and support care staff, if there is full take-up,” said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor in Parliament on Thursday.
Speaking at her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, she said that after these three years, MOH will factor in the higher salary levels in its funding to community care providers.
READ: NDR 2019: New retirement, re-employment ages of 65 and 70 by 2030; higher CPF contributions for older workers
This scheme will be made available to MOH-subvented community care providers.
The review follows previous salary increases for community care manpower, the ministry said.
Between 2012 and 2017, MOH provided S$350 million to about 90 per cent of MOH-subvented community care providers to support the increases in their employees’ salaries, the agency said.
In addition, MOH said public healthcare institutions will follow the rest of the public service to raise the retirement age to 63 and re-employment age to 68 from July 21 2021, one year ahead of the national schedule.
In 2019, almost all public healthcare workers at age 62 and beyond were offered re-employment and 95 per cent of these workers accepted re-employment, MOH said.