Health Minister: Singapore “progressively catching up” with post-COVID hospital capacity crunch

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SINGAPORE: Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore is “progressively catching up” with the post-COVID hospital capacity strain.

He highlighted that the Tan Tock Seng-Integrated Care Hub (TTSH-ICH) has successfully added 300 beds since October 2023, while the upcoming Woodlands Health Campus (WHC) is slated to commence operations by mid-year, initially offering 360 beds.

Minister Ong projected WHC’s bed capacity to nearly reach 600 by year-end.

He was responding to a Parliamentary question filed by Asso Prof Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC.

Asso Prof Jamus Lim asked the Minister whether there remains shortages of hospital beds and available nursing staff in public hospitals, relative to a year ago.

He also asked what is the progress of ongoing plans to increase hospital capacity; and whether public hospitals are currently facing capacity constraints, even in non-crisis environments, and, if so, why.

In a written reply, Mr Ong acknowledged that like most developed countries, Singapore continues to experience a capacity crunch post COVID-19.

He highlighted that this challenge is further compounded by an ageing population, resulting in an increased influx of elderly patients with complex health conditions necessitating extended hospital stays.

He admitted that Singapore will need to continue increasing our hospital capacity.

“We have also been building up our nursing workforce, and the staffing situation in our public hospitals has improved relative to a year ago.”

Despite hospital infrastructure projects were delayed due to the pandemic, Minsiter Ong defended that Singapore’s healthcare system is “progressively catching up” to bridge the existing gaps.

For instance, he highlighted the successful addition of 300 beds at TTSH-ICH since October 2023.

He also anticipated WHC to commence operations by mid-year, initially offering 360 beds, with plans to expand to almost 600 beds by year-end.

Additionally, Minister Ong outlined ongoing initiatives such as the development plans for the Eastern Integrated Health Campus and the redevelopment of Alexandra Hospital.

These projects are slated for completion by the end of the decade and are expected to alleviate strains on the existing healthcare infrastructure.

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