Forum: Healthcare staff had to manage patients and backlog after Covid-19 waves

The current Covid-19 wave may appear to have eased to some extent, both globally and locally, but many people are still cautious when they go about their daily lives and when travelling.

Many still prefer to wear masks while in public places because they realise that being infected with Covid-19 affects not just them but also their family and colleagues.

At the height of every Covid-19 wave, healthcare workers were stretched to the extreme to manage the infected patients. Extra assistance from non-clinical departments was needed to help ease the workload.

Outpatient appointments and other non-urgent cases were often postponed, which meant that when each infection wave passed, healthcare workers were busy clearing this backlog of non-Covid-19 patients.

In many hospitals, beds are still in short supply.

Based on feedback from patients and doctors, many patients are still facing a longer-than-usual waiting time for investigations and follow-up, although the situation may not be as bad as during the height of the pandemic.

Hence, I was puzzled to read that experts said Singapore went through the two Covid-19 Omicron waves without its healthcare system being overwhelmed (Masks not needed in most situations as S'pore becomes Covid-19 resilient: Experts, Aug 22).

Perhaps this definition of an "overwhelmed" healthcare system is based on statistical modelling. The on-the-ground experience at hospitals, especially departments on the front line like the accident and emergency units, would have been different.

Healthcare workers who experienced stress and fatigue, and made sacrifices to fulfil their duties to care for patients would have seen the system as being overwhelmed.

Ho Ting Fei (Dr)

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