Time to review air-con policy in subsidised wards

Recently, I had to be hospitalised in a subsidised B2 ward in a government restructured hospital.

The medical care and staff were exemplary. My only negative experience was the lack of air-conditioning, which left patients and staff uncomfortable.

The non-air-conditioning of subsidised wards has been a policy for decades. I hope it can be reviewed.

It is understandable that there have to be distinguishing "benefits" for the different hospital ward classes. But there are already differences: the ability to choose a specialist, the wait time for an appointment with the specialist, the long wait for a subsidised ward bed, the amount of subsidies, and ward features such as en-suite bathrooms, television and the number of beds per room.

In Singapore, especially during the warm months, the temperature can be sweltering. For patients who have to lie down for hours, particularly when ambient temperatures rise, it is stifling.

During my stay, it was difficult to sleep in the day and night. It was only in the wee hours of the morning, when temperatures dropped, that I managed to get some sleep.

The big ceiling fans in the ward were kept running non-stop. This is surely an acknowledgement by hospital administrators that the wards are warm.

The non-air-conditioning of subsidised wards as a policy has served its purpose. It is time for a review.

Nowadays, most areas in restructured hospitals, such as the reception areas, specialist wards, toilets, retail shops and foodcourts, are air-conditioned. Even bus interchanges and some MRT stations are air-conditioned.

It does not make sense to deprive the sick and infirm of a more pleasant environment.

Chang Wei Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Time to review air-con policy in subsidised wards'. Print Edition | Subscribe