PM Lee: We must keep on getting the system right as healthcare needs grow

PM Lee Hsien Loong visits patients including (left) Chionh Koek, 62, after the official opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital.
PM Lee Hsien Loong visits patients including (left) Chionh Koek, 62, after the official opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
PM Lee Hsien Loong visits patients including (left) Rais bin Misran, 37, after the official opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital.
PM Lee Hsien Loong visits patients including (left) Rais bin Misran, 37, after the official opening of the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has stressed the need to continue to improve Singapore's healthcare system and "make sure we keep on getting the system right".

And it is not just a matter of getting more doctors and opening more hospitals, but ensuring that the healthcare system is efficient, accessible, and sustainable.

He said it is a fact that Singapore has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

Even as Singaporeans get better protection with MediShield Life and more government support for lower- and middle-class patients, "we must ensure patients don't overuse resources... and doctors don't over-treat patients".

"This is always going to be hard," he said at the the official opening of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong East.

That is because the more support the Government provides, the less patients and doctors have to worry about healthcare costs, and the "greater incentive to overuse the healthcare services".

Healthcare is complex, he said, and requires not just good surgeons and specialists, but a whole team to work together. Otherwise, he said: "You can survive the operation, you will die of the recovery."

This is why people come to Singapore for treatment. They can be confident in the whole system.

This is why, when something goes wrong, such as the recent Hepatitis C outbreak at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), it is important to find out what happened, put things rights and safeguard the health and well being of patients.

"We also always have to be open and transparent with the public and with patients about what has happened because we must maintain public confidence and trust in the health care system," PM Lee said.

He added this is the approach the Health Ministry is taking as it conducts its investigations into this outbreak, and for any similar cases in the future.