SINGAPORE - Two new polyclinics opened in Bukit Panjang and Kallang on Saturday (Oct 2), each co-located with related facilities. Bukit Panjang Polyclinic is integrated with a nursing home, while Kallang Polyclinic is located together with a chronic sick unit.
While Bukit Panjang Polyclinic has 365 beds and 60 day care places catered towards seniors, Kallang Polyclinic is co-located with Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. The hospital's long-term care facility has 128 beds catered to patients who have advanced and complicated chronic medical conditions that require long-term nursing and frequent medical care.
A third polyclinic in Eunos, expected to open in December, will be co-located with a senior care centre.
"By co-locating polyclinics with healthcare facilities or community facilities, which include amenities such as sports centres, we open up opportunities to develop joint programmes that cater to holistic care and improve the health of the population," said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was on-site for the official opening of the Bukit Panjang Polyclinic on Saturday.
Bukit Panjang Polyclinic occupies three floors in a 12-storey building and is the first to be integrated with a nursing home.
The opening of the polyclinics in Bukit Panjang and Kallang means that Singapore has 22 polyclinics now.
Mr Ong also announced that Bukit Merah and Outram polyclinics will be consolidated into a larger, more spacious one in Tiong Bahru by 2030, equipped with a wider range of capabilities to better serve residents. These include elderly-friendly and accessibility features.
Another nine polyclinics will be opened within the next nine years, all with integrated developments, said the minister.
This is in line with the Ministry of Health's plan to expand the country's polyclinic network to 32 by 2030.
On having polyclinics with related facilities located together, Mr Ong cited Sembawang Polyclinic, which is part of an upcoming community hub called Bukit Canberra. It will be co-located with sports facilities such as swimming pools, a gym, an indoors sports hall, a park and a hawker centre.
He said that primary care delivered in the community, "must increasingly anchor our healthcare system".
"We are operating against the backdrop of an ageing population and concomitant increase in the incidence of chronic disease," said Mr Ong.
"We therefore need to shift the focus of our healthcare upstream to preventive care within the community at the primary care level, and that way have early disease management to reduce downstream health complications... That's something we must do as our population ages."
He added that by the time a patient has to visit the hospital due to severe chronic diseases, "it's too late, too expensive and too big a burden on the family and also on our whole healthcare system".
Polyclinics will also progressively implement new models of care such as team-based care, where chronic patients would be managed by regular, multi-disciplinary care teams.
"By allowing the same care team to attend to the patient, there is continuity, and more importantly, it builds a relationship and trust between patients and their care team," said Mr Ong.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the minister also noted that it has been four years since a new polyclinic was opened. He thanked everyone who "worked very hard to deliver these primary care services for our residents".