New network launched to meet needs of ageing population, slowing labour force growth

An elderly woman sits in the Pharmacy waiting area of Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic. Elderly in Singapore will now be able to benefit from the new Centre for Healthcare Innovation Co-Learning Network.
An elderly woman sits in the Pharmacy waiting area of Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic. Elderly in Singapore will now be able to benefit from the new Centre for Healthcare Innovation Co-Learning Network. PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR FOR STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - A new healthcare network comprising hospitals and universities was launched on Friday (Oct 21) to help address healthcare challenges facing Singapore.

Announced by Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat, the new Centre for Healthcare Innovation Co-Learning Network will help bring local and overseas institutions together to meet the needs of Singapore's ageing population and slowing labour force growth.

A total of 21 partners have joined the network, which is hosted by Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Healthcare Group.

The initiative will focus on training healthcare workers differently so that they can support the shift from hospital to community care, said Mr Chee, who is also Minister of State for Communications and Information.

"We... also need to train more community care support workers to look after the elderly and enable them to age well and age in place," said Mr Chee.

In addition, it will look at using robotics so that healthcare workers can focus on more important tasks to better meet the needs of patients.

The launch of the network comes a day after Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said Singapore will need to rethink the way it cares for the elderly. The country will require 30,000 more healthcare workers by 2020, compared to 2015, even as its population ages rapidly and more suffer chronic ailments, he said.

Mr Chee said that the Centre for Healthcare Innovation will be ready by end 2018. Announced in 2014, the training and medical hub will house innovation spaces, simulation labs and training facilities.