Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Raffles Hospital Extension Groundbreaking Ceremony, 1 Dec 2014

Dr Loo Choon Yong, Executive Chairman, Raffles Medical Group

Excellencies & Colleagues,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.         It gives me great pleasure to join you here this morning at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Raffles Hospital Extension. It is heartening to see Raffles Medical Group grow from strength to strength as an integrated healthcare provider, both in Singapore and in the region.

2.         Raffles started as a group of primary care clinics nearly 40 years ago in 1976. Since then, it has grown steadily to provide a range of medical and dental services to better serve the needs of patients.   

3.         Raffles Hospital, its flagship facility, sees about 4,500 patients daily. About two thirds of them are residents. This provides another option for Singapore residents seeking medical treatment.

New Ambulatory Medical Centre in the Raffles Hospital Extension

4.         Raffles is set to serve even more patients with this extension to Raffles Hospital. I understand that the plan is for the extension to house a new ambulatory medical centre with specialist clinics, day surgery and diagnostic services. 

5.         Advances in technology have enabled more procedures to be performed in the outpatient setting. This shift towards ambulatory care will benefit patients as they can save both time and money.   

Raffles Medical Group Emergency Department Collaboration with MOH

6.         By the middle of next year, we can also look forward to Raffles Hospital serving more patients in yet another way. My Ministry has been working with Raffles on a collaboration to manage emergency patients. 

7.         In this collaboration, Raffles Hospital will receive patients sent by SCDF emergency ambulances. This arrangement will involve patients with non-critical medical conditions. If these patients need inpatient care or Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC) follow-up after leaving the emergency department, these will also be provided by Raffles Hospital.   

8.         What does this mean for patients? First, patients sent by SCDF to Raffles Hospital will enjoy subsidised care, and will pay rates that are similar to public hospitals. Second, patients can expect care similar to those of our public hospitals. Third, with more capacity now serving subsidised patients, this collaboration should bring about improved access to care.   

9.         My ministry is currently finalising arrangements with Raffles Hospital, and details will be released closer to the date of the launch of the collaboration, sometime in the middle of next year.

10.      This partnership builds on Raffles’ track record of contributing to national healthcare needs. At the height of SARS in 2003, we tapped on Raffles to treat patients who required non-urgent surgery to relieve the overwhelming load on our public hospitals. This allowed our public hospitals to focus on battling the SARS outbreak. Today, all primary care clinics under the Raffles umbrella are registered under the Community Health Assist Scheme, and provide subsidised primary care services to CHAS card and PG card holders. 

 Working Together to Provide Good, Accessible and Affordable Care

11.      As we work with the private sector to expand national capacity, we should also bear in mind the importance of keeping healthcare affordable for our patients. Advances in medical science and technology, coupled with growing public expectations, will continue to push the boundaries of what is considered appropriate and basic care. 

12.      We want our hospitals to provide good quality care that is appropriate to patients’ needs, but we need to safeguard against over-servicing. It is very tempting to push the latest high-cost medicine to patients, but we must look at the evidence on quality of outcomes and the appropriateness of such new technologies and new medications. 

13.      MOH recently introduced a Health Technology Assessment process for medical devices and implants for our public hospitals, to ensure that they are both clinically- and cost-effective. This framework is intended to help clinicians select the most appropriate and cost-effective options. Patients benefit by getting the most appropriate and affordable care.

14.      The Government cannot manage healthcare costs alone. We need the public to be responsible consumers, and the private providers to also take into account patients’ interests and national healthcare needs. Only then can we create a world-class healthcare system to provide accessible, high-quality care that will remain affordable for our people.         

Conclusion

15.      On this note, I am most reassured by Dr Loo’s speech just now on the robust governance measures in place at Raffles Hospital. In closing, let me thank Raffles Medical Group for inviting me to its Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Raffles Hospital Extension today. 

16.      I look forward to Raffles playing a bigger role in Singapore’s healthcare sector and the start of the new collaboration between the Group and the public sector. I wish Raffles every success in delivering good quality and affordable care to our patients.

17.      Thank you.

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