Make it easier for private patients to transfer to public hospitals

Many patients prefer to consult specialists in the private sector, for reasons such as earlier appointments, shorter waiting times and the ability to have the same doctor.

The provision of Medisave, MediShield and private insurance is a great help to these Singaporeans.

When such patients are admitted to the private hospital, they often have a tight and specific budget. However, unexpected complications sometimes prolong their stay, resulting in them exceeding their budget.

Doctors will sometimes give a large discount or even waive their fees completely. The private hospital may also give a small discount. But this may not be enough.

The patient may need to be transferred to a restructured hospital. Hence, it was heartening to read the Ministry of Health's response (MOH will work with private hospitals to help patients in exceptional situations; Oct 31).

Currently, patients who are transferred have to be discharged and then taken to the public hospital's Accident and Emergency department either by their own transport or private ambulance. This can be traumatic for the patients and their relatives.

It would be better if the specialist from the public sector could review the patient in the private hospital and facilitate the easy transfer to the public sector.

At the moment, it is easier for a patient in a public hospital to be transferred to a private hospital.

It would be of great help if the public and private sectors could work together to facilitate transfers the other way.

V. P. Nair (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Make it easier for private patients to transfer to public hospitals'. Print Edition | Subscribe