In this portfolio entry, I will be commenting on the causes, effects and solutions to the recent shortage of hospital beds that has since been alleviated. On January 8 2014, the Straits Times reported that there was a shortage of beds in local hospitals. Changi General Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital all faced a shortage of beds.
Causes Of The Bed Crunch
The first cause is an increase in population density. As the Department of Statistics Singapore reported on June 2013, there were around 5.4 million people in Singapore, an increase of 868,000 people. There were also more foreigners residing in Singapore. The total non-resident ...view middle of the document...
As Mr Liak Teng Lit, head of Alexandria Health which runs Khoo Teck Puat Hospital said, “Those who are not so sick are discharged to make way for the 50 to 60 patients waiting for a bed”. People with minor illnesses will demand to be admitted, and take up valuable space in the hospitals, when they do not really need it. Then those with serious illnesses might not be able to be treated.
Another cause is more foreigners residing in Singapore. The total non-resident population in Singapore in 2013 was approximately 1.55 million, around 29%. Foreigners also need health care, and contribute to the population of Singapore growing.
Another cause is that more doctors are transferring from the public sector to the private sector, as the private sector pays more money. With fewer doctors, patients cannot be treated fast enough, and have a longer stay at the hospital. While they are staying there, they will take up bed space, resulting in a bed crunch. ¬¬¬
Also, medical tourists take up space in public hospitals due to the fact that Singapore’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world. In 2013 alone, there were around 94,000 medical tourists in Singapore, a 13% increase from 2012. Blogger Gintai (http://gintai.wordpress.com/) commented on what it was like in public hospitals in 1990, when he was an investigation officer, “Back then when I went on my hospital rounds, there were hardly any foreigners in our public hospitals.” If medical tourists take up public hospital beds that are cheaper, they contribute to the bed crunch.
Effects Of The Bed Crunch
Firstly, people will be housed closer together. Madam Fatimah Beevi, 60, who was on a trolley bed at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s emergency department, said that patients were so close to each other that she could touch the next patient by stretching out her arm. In such conditions, infectious and contagious diseases could easily get transferred, causing more people to get infected. Then they would have a longer stay due to the hospital having to treat more diseases, resulting in the shortage getting worse. It is a vicious cycle with no end.
Also, when people are closer together in hospitals, the noise level will increase, and patients might not be able to get rest, which is vital for recovery. If they cannot recover, patients will have a longer stay at the hospital, resulting in an even worse shortage of beds, as they cannot be discharged. Also, with people so close to each other, privacy is compromised. For example, if the doctor tells a patient that he or she has a bad illness, the patient would not want other people to overhear, or if a family is discussing family issues, it is their basic right to have some privacy. However, if people are not more than an arm’s breadth away, anything and everything would be overheard.
Another effect is that fewer people get proper health care. If the situation escalates, the workforce might be affected. The economy could drop,...