New family clinic in Serangoon a boon for elderly

SINGAPORE - At the new Unity Family Medicine Clinic in Serangoon, elderly patients requiring physiotherapy need just go next door.

The clinic, which was officially opened yesterday, is next to an eldercare facility - meaning some patients will have to travel shorter distances for treatment.

Its founders hope the clinic's heartland location will draw patients who might think twice about visiting the doctor.

"The objective is to bring affordable and quality health-care services closer to the community, particularly for the elderly with chronic diseases," said Mr Tan Suee Chieh, group chief executive of NTUC Enterprise.

The clinic, a collaboration between NTUC Unity Healthcare and National Healthcare Group (NHG), was opened by NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say who explained the importance of community health care.

"If you try to run a health-care system with only one gear - with only hospitals - the system will be under a lot of stress," he said.

Family medicine clinics were launched last year to cater to patients with chronic medical conditions who no longer require specialist care.

Unity Family Medicine Clinic is the sixth to open here, and began operations in March.

While it accepts walk-in patients, the majority are referrals from NHG institutions such as Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Other family medicine clinics have been set up in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Chinatown, Clementi and Lakeside.

Being located in the centre of Singapore is important as the new clinic serves a region that is "one of the fastest greying", said NHG group chief executive Chee Yam Cheng. "One in every three persons is above 50 years old. On average, the seniors here are 10 years older than those in the rest of Singapore."