Parliament approved the spending plans of the Health Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office yesterday. Chong Zi Liang lists five ideas that were discussed.
PSYCHOLOGISTS FOR SOCIAL SERVICE OFFICES
Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) suggested that psychologists or psychiatric nurse practitioners be stationed at social service offices.
She said that they will be able to help identify people with undiagnosed mental health issues, who may turn to the offices for social or financial aid.
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said the offices already refer people with suspected mental health problems to the Agency for Integrated Care for assessment.
ASSOCIATION TO CHAMPION CARE INDUSTRY
Nominated MP K. Thanaletchimi said that the intermediate- and long-term care industry should form an association that will champion its development.
This association will be a platform for industry players - such as nursing homes and community hospitals - to network, share concerns and collaborate with one another, the veteran unionist said.
Dr Khor said the authorities will study ways to strengthen the tripartite partnerships between the Government, employers and unions in the sector, and will look into Ms Thanaletchimi's idea.
SUPPORT FOR MENTAL ILLNESSES
Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) said that the Medisave, MediShield and Medifund frameworks should be changed to provide as much support for mental illnesses as they do for other ailments.
He noted that MediShield Life gives $700 a day to cover costs incurred in a normal hospital ward, but only $100 for a psychiatric ward. He added that mental illness is as debilitating as other illnesses.
Dr Khor said claim and withdrawal limits for psychiatric treatments are set lower because costs for these are generally lower. She added that the coverage provided by MediShield Life and Medisave, taken together, has been enough to pay for subsidised inpatient psychiatric treatment seven out of 10 times.
MORE RENTAL FLATS FOR MARRIED COUPLES
Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked for more flats to be made available under a scheme which allows married couples to rent existing Housing Board flats while waiting for their new flats to be built.
He added that the flats under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme should be in mature estates so that couples can live close to their parents or near established infant-care centres.
Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo said that the supply of such flats for rental is sufficient for now but the Government will continue to monitor demand.
SOLUTIONS FOR FAMILY-FRIENDLY WORKPLACES
Targeted measures are needed to make workplaces family-friendly, and these could be tailored to the needs of each industry, said Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC).
For example, he said, there can be childcare centres that cater to the needs of those working in industries that do not keep regular office hours.
Mrs Josephine Teo said the tripartite partners will explore how flexible work arrangements can be promoted in a more targeted manner across the different sectors.