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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 2 September 2007

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Two new specialty centres for cancer and heart disease


Two new specialty centres for cancer and heart disease
MOH is setting up two new specialty centres for cancer and heart disease at the National University Hospital to meet the rising demand for tertiary care in these specialties.
Currently, patients with cancer or heart disease are treated in all hospitals, with the National Heart Centre (NHC) and the National Cancer Centre (NCC) at the Outram Campus providing an additional tertiary level of care. This model of healthcare delivery has served us well.
First, it allows NHC and NCC to build up a critical mass of patients and thus enables the doctors to sub-specialise and achieve medical excellence.
Second, it enables Singaporeans to enjoy high standards of medical care at the lowest possible cost through better resource allocation.
Under this model, treatment procedures which become routine and standard are moved downstream to departments in the general hospitals, so that the national centres can focus their resources on developing higher-end capabilities and treating patients with greater complications. NHC and NCC have done well in this regard.
NHC is treating close to 50% of the new heart patient referrals to the public hospitals and it handles high volumes of coronary angioplasty and stent cases, cardiac surgeries and other diagnostic procedures.
It has set the pace for many advances in the treatment of cardiac disease, being the first to introduce 24-hour/365day emergency angioplasty for ongoing heart attack patients, surgery and ablation of abnormal heart rhythms and biventricular assist device for end-stage heart failure patients.
Last year, NHC handled almost 10,000 inpatient episodes. Its heart transplant patient survival rate is also comparable to other established heart institutions overseas.
NCC has also acquired a regional reputation as a centre of medical excellence with its multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment. It has attracted a significant clientele, with 125,000 outpatients last year.
With a critical mass of patientload, NCC doctors have successfully developed medical subspecialties, carried out clinical trials, and individualised medical care for their patients. Many NCC doctors have also applied their knowledge to their research work with very good results, and won recognition from the international medical fraternity.
MOH will continue to invest in the NHC and NCC to support their further development. Indeed, there are immediate plans to rebuild the NHC as its current facility is inadequate for its current level and intensity of work, whether in patient care, education or research.
With continuing expansion and ageing of the population, MOH will do more to gear up for our future needs.
Cancer and heart disease are the top two killers, with cancer taking 4000 lives in Singapore each year. They will remain the major causes of death and morbidity. New cancer cases are projected to increase from 9,000 per year to 13,000 by 2015. For cardiology, outpatient attendances are projected to grow from 200,000 per year to 320,000 by 2015. We must ramp up our capacity and capabilities to meet this rapidly growing demand.
Now that NHC and NCC have acquired critical mass and are fully established, MOH has decided to develop a second tertiary centre in each of these specialties, as the projected increase in patient-load will be able to support such a development. Apart from improving efficiency through healthy competition, it also provides choice for the patients.
The selection of NUH for the two new specialty centres takes into account the fact that both specialties already exist with substantial strength at the hospital. MOH will inject additional resources to NUH to nurture this development.
First, MOH will increase its annual funding support to NUH at rates equivalent to its current support level at NCC and NHC. This is in recognition of the higher complexity of the cases treated at tertiary centres.
Second, some capital expenditure will also be required to create additional clinics and diagnostic resources. The details are being studied.

Ministry of Health
23 August 2007

Source: Press Release 26 Aug 2007

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