GPs form front line of healthcare in community

We agree with Mr Li Ze Zong ("GPs can go beyond being 'jack of all trades'"; last Friday) that general practitioners play a critical role in our healthcare sector.

GPs, being our front-line doctors in the community, are often the first to pick up emerging infectious diseases, and constitute a critical part of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) multi-pronged surveillance system.

Rather than being "jacks of all trades", GPs are experts in clinical breadth, which is most crucial for doctors who provide the first line of care in the community.

GPs are also our first and continuous line of care, providing holistic and personalised care for patients of different age groups.

They treat acute conditions such as upper respiratory tract infections, manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and keep the population healthy through preventive measures such as targeted health screening.

In addition, GPs can coordinate patients' care with other providers and help patients navigate the healthcare system when they require more specialised medical attention.

As the disease burden and complexity increase with our ageing population, the role of GPs will continue to evolve and expand to remain relevant to a wide spectrum of patients with varying and increasingly complex medical needs.

Recognising this, MOH has introduced training subsidies to encourage more GPs to undergo postgraduate training in family medicine to be upskilled in managing more complex chronic conditions.

In addition, we have developed community health centres to provide GPs with support services to complement their role in anchoring good chronic disease management.

Our GPs have also been active in ground-up initiatives, such as the Primary Care Network, where GPs from different clinics have organised themselves into a network to share services such as nurse counselling.

Through the Community Health Assist Scheme, more than 950 GPs offer accessible and subsidised care to patients.

These initiatives and support aim to further empower our GPs in providing quality care for Singaporeans.

MOH will continue to work closely with the primary care community to achieve our vision of One Singaporean, One Family Doctor, in which all Singaporeans will have a regular family doctor to address their healthcare needs holistically.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director

Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'GPs form front line of healthcare in community'. Print Edition | Subscribe