Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bed crunch problem in subsidised wards depriving the elderly sick of proper medical care

On two occasions this month, I was placed in unnecessary anxiety in trying to secure a bed for my wife in Tan Tock Seng Hospital for her urgent arthritis treatment.  Reason: Bed crunch. This resulted in my having to send a flurry of letters to top management in the hospital as well as to the Ministry of Health to secure a bed for her.  

This bed crunch problem has not been resolved since the former health minister’s tenure, leaving the elderly sick of proper and decent medical care. I saw with my own eyes, a frail looking old man lying on the bed along the corridor in ward 7C on 2nd February 2012.  I asked the doctor how he would feel if his own relative was in that predicament. He could not answer me. 

Instead of making things easy for patients and their caregivers, Tan Tock Seng Hospital places unnecessary roadblocks in giving us the support that we so badly needed. They insisted that the ward number and bed could only be given to me on the date of admission and not earlier, failing to understand that I needed to make logistic arrangements like transport to ferry my wife to the hospital because of her severe mobility problems. 

What is clearly lacking here in the management of hospitals is a lack of empathy for the elderly sick and their family members.  The poor management on the part of the hospital causes frustrations and unhappiness to both patients and their stressed-out relatives. 

I know for sure that if patients wish to be admitted into the A class wards, they will get a bed almost immediately. It will be a sad day for Singapore when our sick are no longer treated like patients, but like consumers. Where if one can pays top dollar, you can get the best treatment. 

Although there have been repeated assurances from the government that the elderly sick will be well taken of, I do not see this promise being fulfilled.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letter to The New Paper: Others could have stepped in to help couple

My letter to the press is published today in The New Paper, Wed 1st Feb 2012, page 14.

I refer to the report, “Wife denies flirting, then slashes hubby” (The New Paper, Jan17).

Whilst many people are welcoming the Year of the Dragon and joining in the Chinese New Year celebrations, this family is grieving and mourning the loss of a loved one who died in a most tragic manner.

Patients who are suffering from depression and other types of mental problems need strong emotional support and medication to help them in their recovery. 

It is abundantly clear to me that the late Madam Boon Soon Leng who suffered from depression was crying out for help and for attention.

The number of suicides has risen, as more people who are unable to cope with the stresses of life will develop mental illness. 

The divorce rates have also gone up.

Police called

A neighbour living on the same floor as Madam Boon and her injured husband Mr Ng Tiong Lam, was quoted as saying that the police had been called almost 20 times to break up the fights between the couple. 

Why didn’t the police refer their marital problems and gambling addiction on the part of Mr Ng to the Ministry of Community Development, Youths & Sports who could have helped them resolve their problems?

Perhaps a life could have been saved if somebody just cared to get them help. But no one did!

I am told that in some western countries, suicide squads are on standby and will come down on-site to save and rescue anyone contemplating suicide.

Everyone needs to play their part in keeping our suicide rate down and helping people cope with the onslaught of mental illness. 

Government agencies must learn the value of teamwork- both within their respective ministries and across the civil service.

It’s also high time that the government sets up a task force to address mental health issues such as suicide, divorces and anger management, which are destroying lives and families.