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BY the middle of next year, Raffles Hospital will receive patients sent by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) emergency ambulances, even as the government ramps up public hospitals' capacities to serve patients.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Monday said the arrangement will involve patients with non-critical medical conditions.
Inpatient care or specialist outpatient clinic (SOC) follow-up after leaving the emergency department will also be provided by Raffles Hospital if patients require these.
While the ministry is now finalising arrangements with the private hospital, details will be released sometime in the middle of next year.
This move is expected to lighten patient loads at the Singapore General Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
"This partnership builds on Raffles' track record of contributing to national healthcare needs. At the height of SARS in 2003, we tapped on Raffles to treat patients who required non-urgent surgery to relieve the overwhelming load on our public hospitals," said Mr Gan, who added that the move allowed elective surgery to continue,while the public hospitals battled the outbreak.
Raffles Hospital’s extension will house a new medical centre with specialist and family clinics, day-surgery suites and diagnostic services in a 20-storey high tower devoted to ambulatory care. Advances in technology have enabled a shift towards this form of care, which makes it possible for more procedures to be performed in an outpatient setting, saving patients' time and money.
He noted that all primary care clinics under the Raffles umbrella are now registered under the Community Health Assist Scheme, and provide subsidised primary care services to CHAS card and Pioneer Generation card holders.
Mr Gan was speaking at the ground breaking of the hospital's extension to house a new ambulatory medical centre with specialist clinics, day surgery and diagnostic services.
The shift towards ambulatory care is meant to help patients save time and money as more procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting with advances in technology.
Raffles Hospital started as a group of primary care clinics in 1976 and is the largest private group practice in Singapore.
Its flagship facility sees about 4,500 patients daily and of these, about two in three are residents.