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Singapore's public healthcare system to regroup into three clusters

SINGAPORE'S public healthcare system will be regrouped into three clusters from the existing six regional health systems to improve delivery of services and future-proof it.

SINGAPORE'S public healthcare system will be regrouped into three clusters from the existing six regional health systems to improve delivery of services and future-proof it.

This comes as Singapore's healthcare needs will grow in volume and complexity as the population ages rapidly and the chronic disease burden rises.

The reorganisation is not expected to affect patients.

The three integrated clusters comprise:

- Central region: National Healthcare Group (NHG) and the Alexandra Health System;

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- Eastern region: Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) and the Eastern Health Alliance (EHA);

- Western region: National University Health System (NUHS) and Jurong Health Services (JurongHealth).

These three new clusters will retain the names of NHG, SingHealth and NUHS.

Philip Choo will be NHG's group chief executive while Ivy Ng remains at the helm of the SingHealth cluster and John Wong will head NUHS.

Each cluster will have the full suite of healthcare services, from general hospitals to community hospitals to primary care.

This means that there will now be three polyclinic groups instead of the existing two. NUHS will form the new National University Polyclinics to be headed by new CEO Lew Yii Jen, who is currently senior director of clinical services of NHG Polyclinics. Some existing polyclinics under NHG and SingHealth will be moved over to this new group.

The full transition is expected to be completed by early 2018, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday, adding that the changes will allow the public healthcare organisations to have a fuller range of capabilities, services and networks across different care settings, including primary care.

Said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong: "Over the last few years, MOH has significantly improved the accessibility, affordability and quality of health care in Singapore under our Healthcare 2020 Masterplan. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to stay still as there remain many challenges ahead, such as our ageing population, increased chronic disease burden and the need to manage future growth in healthcare manpower and spending. This reorganisation of the public healthcare clusters will enable us to meet our future healthcare challenges. I am confident that we will be able to better optimise resources and capabilities, and provide more comprehensive and patient-centred care to meet Singaporeans' evolving needs."

The reorganisation will enable the public healthcare institutions to offer employees a wider and deeper range of professional development opportunities, and a broader platform for cross-learning, in turn benefiting staff and patients, MOH said.

It added that patients will not need to make any changes, and can continue with their existing healthcare arrangements and appointments.

Ongoing projects such as the renewal of the Singapore General Hospital campus will not be delayed as well.

"Almost everyone within the public healthcare sector will continue in their current roles, within their current teams. A small number may eventually be re-deployed, as the merged clusters better optimise their manpower. In such cases, staff will be offered jobs that match their experience and skill sets without any changes to their current salaries. The clusters will consult with the union and staff on these changes," said MOH.

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