Tents part of 'buffer' capacity for hospitals, says Health Minister

Patients waiting for beds in a large air-conditioned tent at Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Jan 7, 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Patients waiting for beds in a large air-conditioned tent at Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Jan 7, 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Tents are considered "a purpose-built facility" for housing Emergency Department patients with "less serious conditions", Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament on Monday.

The tent that was used to hold patients when Changi General Hospital is full, is part of the planned "buffer capacity" put in place when demand for beds is high, he said in answer to a question on whether Ministry of Health (MOH) has contingency plans.

Mr Arthur Fong (West Coast GRC) had asked if the Ministry "could have taken action earlier to avoid the need for tentages to be used to tackle the situation".

The Straits Times had highlighted in January the bed crunch at Changi General Hospital, following patient complaints about being housed in a tent, where they were disturbed by traffic noise from traffic and the patter of rain on the tent.