The Straits Times
Published on Jan 23, 2013

Visiting GPs first may mean loss of precious time


ONE of the suggestions offered by Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan ("Easing A&E queues: Try carrot-and-stick approach"; last Saturday) to reduce the queues at hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments was to give a discount to patients who visit general practitioners (GPs) and polyclinics first.

This proposal is problematic and may not be feasible.

Polyclinics and most private clinics are not run on a 24-hour basis.

Patients who do not feel well but do not exhibit obvious physical symptoms associated with heart disease, for instance, may be putting themselves at risk by not going to the A&E department.

Such patients waste precious time by visiting a GP or polyclinic first.

Moreover, GPs and polyclinics may not possess the right equipment to conduct the necessary tests to diagnose such cases.

The Health Ministry can do more to educate the public on what medical conditions are serious and deemed emergencies, so the queues at A&E departments will be reduced and hospital staff can attend to critical cases without delay.

Ada Chan Siew Foen (Ms)