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KKH to serve all healthcare needs of women



Excerpt of speech by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for Health on 10 Jul 2005

"...I played a part in planning the new KKH. It is a beautiful hospital with an efficient layout. But we made our share of mistakes.
"We had not fully anticipated the significant drop in birth rates. In particular, we failed to anticipate that Medisave would lead to more births in private than in public hospitals.
"Unlike the past when practically every Singaporean was born in a public hospital, Medisave made it affordable for many mothers to deliver their babies in private hospitals.
"The combined effects of these two structural trends have resulted in the new KKH being under-utilised. Bed occupancy is about 65%, below average. Number of babies born is one-third what it used to do.
"The question is where do we go from here? One obvious response is to fight and win back our obstetric market share. This means fighting with the private hospitals for a share of a shrinking pie.
"What for? As a government, we should be pleased that Singaporeans are finding private obstetric care affordable. Then our limited resources can be re-deployed to serve more pressing needs, like oncology and geriatrics, where patients may not be able to afford private hospital care. Time to Change
"At the same time, when we look beyond O&G, we see women living longer and presenting with many conditions which require our care: osteoporosis, oncology, geriatrics, strokes, etc. Their needs beyond O&G are growing and contribute to the crowding in the general hospitals. See the long waiting in TTSH Emergency Department as an example.
"So I suggested to Dr Ivy Ng that we rewrite the mission of KKH to go beyond O&G.
"Besides the Children's Hospital which should continue to benchmark against the likes of the Boston's Children's, let's also aim to be the best hospital in Asia for women's health, serving all the healthcare needs of women as well.
"A good model for this development is Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital. Let's be the Brigham's of the East. In Asia, there isn't quite such an entity yet and we have the potential to fill this gap.
"It struck an immediate chord among the clinicians there. They were seized with it and were ready to charge ahead. I was infected by their enthusiasm. I advised them to work out a practical strategy that allows us to pursue this incrementally and opportunistically. My side interest is also to help relieve over-crowding elsewhere, in TTSH and SGH.
"After extensive discussions, we now have a plan to work towards this new goal. KKH will progressively expand its existing services, adding medical specialties that will complement its existing O&G services. It will also include specialties that have the potential to draw international patients.
"Over the next few months, the following specialty services for women will be added or expanded: the Breast Service, ENT Service, Orthopaedic Surgery and Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Services.
"Once these have stabilized, new services such as Ophthalmology, Psychological/Psychiatric Services, and Adolescent Medicine will be considered. With this full suite of services, KKH will be able to cater to all the special healthcare needs of women, just as it is already a comprehensive general hospital for children.
"I am optimistic that the new goal can be achieved. KKH is used to re-making itself and thrive.
"When it started off nearly 150 years ago, it was a general hospital for both locals and foreigners. Over the years, it was at various stages, a hospital for seamen, a police hospital, a pauper hospital, a war-time emergency general hospital, a women's hospital, and now a women and children's hospital.
"But for most of its long history, it served the needs of women and was hugely successful..."
"KKH was one of the great institutions before. It has what it will take to be among the very best in the future. Adapt to the changing needs of the patients here and in the region. Serve them well. Be guided by strong principles and ethical standards."

Full Text of Speech

Source: Newsroom 10 Jul 2005


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11 July 2005