Long queues at polyclinics? See a private GP instead

It is incontrovertible that we have a very high standard of primary healthcare in Singapore.

Medical practice is constantly updated by continuing medical education. The regulation of standards and charges is also stringent.

However, no matter how many more polyclinics the Government builds, it will never be more convenient for patients to visit them, as compared to general practitioner clinics which are ubiquitous and handily located in all HDB precincts (More polyclinics needed to serve growing population, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Aug 12).

Similarly, there will always be more primary healthcare practitioners in private practice than doctors in polyclinics.

With the highly-subsidised care provided at polyclinics and hordes of people going there regardless of their income, is it any wonder that queues are long and the wait is interminable?

Private practitioners should assume the role of the bigger player, with polyclinics being reserved for the truly needy.

The Community Health Assist Scheme and Pioneer Generation Scheme can also be expanded to allow for more equitable distribution of subsidised primary care between the public and private sectors.

Meanwhile, it is far more worthwhile for the Government to concentrate on tertiary healthcare (specialised consultative care), where it is the dominant player and where the cost differential between private and public institutions is far greater than in primary care.

Presently, subsidised patients wait for months to get a much-needed appointment in government hospitals.

Building more hospitals will ameliorate this lengthy wait and also allow more qualified specialists to rise through the ranks.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Long queues at polyclinics? See a private GP instead'. Print Edition | Subscribe