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.


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