Hospitals to reduce number of beds reserved for COVID-19 patients, transitional care facilities to be expanded: MOH
These measures will shorten wait times at Emergency Departments and reduce the burden on healthcare workers.
To tackle the “very tight” supply of available hospital beds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is progressively standing down ringfencing of beds for COVID-19 patients and expanding Transitional Care Facilities (TCFs).
Speaking at an award ceremony for enrolled nurses on Monday (Nov 21), Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung highlighted that the burden of endemicity and any new wave of COVID-19 will fall disproportionately on Singapore’s healthcare system.
“Singaporeans are now able to resume normalcy in their daily lives because our healthcare workers are fully dedicated to taking on heavy caseloads, caring for patients, pulling long shifts, and rapidly adapting to the changing situations,” he said.
In order to ease the burden on healthcare workers and optimise hospital resources, practices like ringfencing of beds for COVID-19 patients will be removed progressively.
Just as the nation has transitioned to treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease, hospitals likewise no longer need to separate premises and wards just for COVID-19 patients, said Mr Ong.
Another measure to reduce the strain on public hospitals is for TCFs to admit medically stable patients while they wait for their transfers to intermediate and long-term care facilities or for their discharge plans to be finalised.
Mr Ong cited his visit to Crawfurd Hospital, which functions as a TCF for Tan Tock Seng hospital with 43 beds for transitional patients. MOH is actively working with Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital to be a partner TCF for Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
To tackle the manpower shortage due to “intense” competition for nurses by different countries during the pandemic, MOH will also bring on board close to 4,000 new foreign and local nurses by the end of next year.
This is an increase of 700 nurses compared to 2021’s intake, Mr Ong added. Of the 4,000 nurses, the proportion of foreign to local nurses will be “a split of about 60:40”.
Mr Ong assured that while foreign recruitment will be ramped up, the large majority of the nursing workforce will continue to be local and contributed through nursing school intakes and mid-career training programmes.