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Hospital Services Types of Services

There are a total of about 11,798 hospital beds in the 26 hospitals and speciality centres in Singapore, giving a ratio of 3.7 beds per 1,000 resident population. 84% of the beds are in the 8 public hospitals and 5 speciality centres with bed complements between 180 to 3,110 beds. On the other hand, the 13 private hospitals tend to be smaller, providing 25 to 500 beds each. The Government being the dominant healthcare provider has the control on the supply on the number of hospital beds, the introduction of high-tech/high-cost medicines and the rate of cost increases in the public sector which sets the bench mark in terms of pricing for the private sector.

The 8 public hospitals comprise 5 general hospitals, 2 hospitals specializing in obstetrics & gynaecology and psychiatry and 1 community hospital. The general hospitals provide multi-disciplinary inpatient and specialist outpatient services and a 24-hour accident & emergency service. In addition, there are 6 speciality institutes for ophthalmology, dermatology, oncology, cardiology, neuroscience and dentistry. The tertiary specialist care on cardiology, renal medicine, haematology, neurology, oncology, radiotherapy, plastic and reconstructive surgery, paediatric surgery, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery and transplant surgery are centralised in two of the larger general hospitals, the Singapore General Hospital and the National University Hospital. The private hospitals have similar specialist disciplines and comparable facilities.

In public hospitals, patients have the freedom to choose the type of accomodation they desire. 79% of public hospital beds are heavily subsidised while the remaining 21% would belong to the higher class, i.e Class A1 or A2 or semi-private beds known as Class B3. Patients are expected to pay more out of their own pockets when they request for a higher standard of physical amenities. The medical services provided on the other hand would be the same for all types of accomodation. Generally more serious medical conditions are attended to in public hospitals by senior consultants or specialist regardless of the type of accomdation they have chosen. The average length of stay in the general hospitals is about 5.6 days. The hospital beds are well utilised, with an average occupancy rate of about 81%.

The Government has re-structured all the 8 hospitals and the 6 specialty institutes to make them function as private companies, though they are still owned by the Government. The reason for this re-structuring is so that these hospitals and institutes have the management autonomy and flexibility to respond more promptly to the needs of the patients. In the process, commercial accounting systems have been introduced, providing a more accurate picture of the operating costs and instilling greater financial discipline and accountability. The restructured hospitals are different from the other private hospitals in that they receive an annual government subvention or subsidy for the provision of subsidised medical services to the patients. They are to be managed like not-for-profit organisations. The restructured hospitals are subject to broad policy guidance by the Government through the Ministry of Health.

The Government has also introduced low cost community hospitals for intermediate healthcare for the convalescent sick and aged who do not require the more expensive care of the general hospitals.