Set cost-reduction target for hospitals

I agree with senior health correspondent Salma Khalik (Review 'no air-conditioning' norm for subsidised wards?; Aug 17).

The Government should fundamentally relook Singapore's healthcare infrastructure.

Quality healthcare should be measured by the care and treatment patients receive. What was the norm 25 years ago should not be the practice today.

While our new hospitals are built like hotels and malls with quality fixtures and furnishing as well as restaurants, food courts and shops for visitors, it is abhorrent that the new C-class wards remain without air-conditioning, while nurses and medical staff are provided with air-conditioned galleries for patient monitoring.

A hot and humid environment without air-conditioning is less than ideal for the treatment of bed sores arising from perspiration within areas with dressings or that have been bandaged, and for patients with restrictions on movement.

Air-conditioning may have been a luxury 25 years ago but, today, it is an essential part of living with most homes, modes of public transport and government buildings being air-conditioned.

Hospitals are not hotels or commercial buildings.

The land and infrastructure costs for hospitals - whether public or private - cannot be treated the same way.

These costs must be treated differently to help to bring them down.

Other cost-cutting measures should target scans and diagnostics which are duplicated for insurance and other purposes, as well as justifying the need for new, sophisticated and expensive equipment.

The bottom line is that healthcare costs must come down and saving a few cents on air-conditioning should not be the way to go.

The Government should proactively set a cost-reduction target for hospitals to reduce unwanted costs.

Ramchand Ramesh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2018, with the headline 'Set cost-reduction target for hospitals'. Print Edition | Subscribe