From today, residents living in the north will be able to seek urgent medical attention at a new facility within the community.
Situated in Kampung Admiralty, the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) provides residents with medical attention for acute but non-life-threatening conditions, said the Woodlands Health Campus (WHC) on Sunday.
Acute conditions are often sudden in their onset - examples include sudden vomiting and diarrhoea, or sudden abdominal pain.
Spanning 470 sq m, the centre jointly operated by WHC and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) has three consultation rooms, and an observation area with two beds and two recliners, among other facilities.
It is also equipped to provide services such as splint or cast applications for fractures and dislocations, stitching for cuts and wounds, as well as the administration of intravenous fluids or IV drips.
Dr Lim Eng Koon, clinical director of UCC@Admiralty, said: "The UCC is equipped to handle urgent and acute conditions, and it is manned by a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals.
"The centre also has on-site X-ray and blood testing facilities, and it is open from 8am to 11pm daily so that residents can have their medical needs attended to in a timely manner and in one location."
Dr Mohan Tiru, deputy chairman of the medical board (surgical and ambulatory services) at the WHC, said: "The UCC supports urgent care needs of patients in the community by diverting non-emergency cases away from the emergency department (ED), so that the ED can provide better and timelier care for sicker patients."
General practitioner (GP) clinics remain the recommended first stop for common ailments in this "holistic ecosystem of care", he added.
To facilitate this, WHC and KTPH will be jointly rolling out the GPFirst programme in the north, which will be operational from today, to encourage residents to seek treatment at their nearest GP clinic for common conditions like cough, runny nose and simple sprains, instead of going to the ED.
There has been an 8 per cent increase in self-admitted patients to the ED each year, Dr Mohan noted.
Around 40 GP clinics located in the north of Singapore will be participating.
To further encourage patients to visit their GPs for consultations first, patients who have received GP referrals to the UCC or the ED may receive $50 off their patient fees.
In 2014, Changi General Hospital's launch of the GPFirst programme saw more than 100 GPs in the eastern region coming on board, which resulted in a 10 per cent drop in the number of cases at the hospital's emergency department that year.
"Even with the new centre, it's still important for people to cultivate a close relationship with their GPs, who know their medical history well, and can be their first point of contact should they be unsure on the kind of medical attention that they need," said Dr Mohan.