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“….Within a week, the minister has added 6,300 more beds to his Heathcare 2020 Masterplan. Is this for real or a mere knee-jerk reaction to placate public opinion? It is a substantial deviation from the Masterplan, yet no details have been disclosed so far. I hope that it is real; it is in line with what I advocated in my $60 billion economic rejuvenation plan for Singapore published in 2011………. This would enable Singapore to reach First World norms of about 58 beds per 10,000 population within 5 years, that is, by 2016.
Gan’s plan is 4 years behind, but at least he is doing something …….unlike his predecessor… During Khaw’s tenure as health minister for 7 years (2004-2011), the total number of beds ….. actually fell from 11,840 to 11,394 despite a population increase of 1 million…. So the number of beds per 10,000 population dropped from 28 to 22 . Which responsible health minister will allow such a substantial fall to happen, let alone the supposedly “best health minister Singapore has ever had” (in the famous words of ex-PM Goh Chok Tong)? Is it any wonder that there is such a severe bed crunch in public hospitals today?
Ghost of the White Paper
Minister Gan must tell us what is the population size that he has used for the year 2020 when deciding to build 10,000 more beds by 2020. Is this population figure in line with the Population White Paper approved by Parliament in early 2013? What would be the expected number of beds per 10,000 population when the additional 10,000 beds are put in place by end 2020?
Let us work out the numbers in case the minister is not promptly forthcoming…………. The number of beds per 10,000 population will then be 36 which is not even two thirds of First World norm.
Does this mean that Singaporeans will continue to see their loved ones lying on beds in hospital corridors and make-shift tents in the years ahead? We can avoid this Third World situation either by increasing the number of beds sharply to around 35,000 beds by 2020 or reducing the total population appropriately, or doing both at a slower pace or in ways that do not degrade the quality of public service. That is why it is vitally important for Singaporeans to oppose the Population White Paper unless adequate public facilities in essential services are put in place. And all the working numbers …. must clearly be shown to the people. That’s what we expect of a responsible and transparent government.”
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