||Asean Affairs 28 June 2013
MOH reveals contingency plans for haze
By Olivia Siong
SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday announced his ministry's contingency plans if the haze gets worse.
The contingency plans will focus on three areas. They are how to ensure patient safety, how to meet demand if there is a surge in the number of patients seeking help, and how to minimise disruption to services should haze conditions worsen.
In terms of ensuring patient safety, Mr Gan, who was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a visit to the Toa Payoh Polyclinic on Thursday morning, said polyclinics have implemented a triage system to identify those more vulnerable, like those with respiratory problems.
To meet a possible surge in demand, Mr Gan said besides the government subsidy scheme for vulnerable groups seeking medical attention for haze related ailments, which would help divert some patients from polyclinics to GPs, manpower will also be redeployed.
In the hospital setting, Mr Gan said plans to convert spaces to accommodate more beds have already started.
However, Mr Gan added that for now, the demand at the hospital end is still manageable as most patients still visit polyclinics first.
Mr Gan also said that some 2,000 polyclinic patients have tapped into the government subsidy scheme for vulnerable groups seeking medical attention for haze related ailments.
Those in the vulnerable groups, which include the elderly and children, will only need to pay S$10 under the scheme if they visit the polyclinic.
Mr Gan said more than 550 general practitioner (GP) clinics have also signed up under the scheme, and he hopes more will come on board.
Those who visit a GP will receive a S$30 subsidy for their bill from the Health Ministry.
The number of those who have tapped into the scheme for visits to GPs is not available yet.