Are Singaporean doctors being overwhelmed by local medical demands?

20170112100000, Vinay Swamy
Are Singaporean doctors being overwhelmed by local medical demands?
Singapore’s healthcare system has undoubtedly made its mark in the world, often serving as an exemplary model to other nations. It promises to deliver healthcare with minimal delay given the sound infrastructure and workflow. According to Pacific Prime in 2016, Singapore’s healthcare system was ranked the 2nd most efficient in the world. However, an article published by the Straits Times in late 2015 revealed that more than one-quarter of doctors in the country’s public healthcare sector was made up of foreigners. This may indicate an underlying issue of high levels of stress for local doctors, which have steered the locals away from pursuing medicine as a career path.

Rising expectations of medical services

Singapore’s healthcare system boasts of supreme efficiency levels and illustrious work ethics, as depicted by its standing in the global healthcare ratings. However, the need to maintain its ranking has resulted in rising expectations for the doctors. The members of the public, who are aware of the good reputation of Singapore’s healthcare system, will naturally demand high standards of local healthcare treatment and service. They may expect great efficiency in the form of shorter waiting time and high-quality treatment. Therefore, doctors are constantly made to perform up to such expectations, which have resulted in them being overwhelmed.

Pressing issue of ageing population

Singapore’s elderly population has become a large segment of the society. According to The Independent, the proportion of elderly in Singapore is expected to rise from 11% currently to 20% by 2030. Furthermore, according to Singstat, the proportion of residents that were aged 65 and above has increased from 8.4% in 2006 to 12.4% in 2016. The issue of ageing population in Singapore will place great strain on its healthcare system. This is because the elderly are prone to illnesses and physical injuries and have great healthcare needs due to their old age. Therefore, the Singapore government has put in place measures to improve healthcare so that the country will be more able to meet the healthcare needs of the elderly. An example is the Pioneer Generation Package, which provides healthcare benefits for all pioneers for life. However, the need for a good and efficient healthcare system due to the country’s ageing population will place great stress on doctors, who need to meet great healthcare demands.

Keeping tabs on widespread diseases

Singapore is not immune from pandemics. A recent example would be the outbreak of Zika virus, which is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947. In late August, the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency (NEA) were informed of a case of Zika virus infection. Subsequently, there was a total of 401 locally transmitted Zika cases that have been confirmed in Singapore, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA). Therefore, doctors have to be vigilant and act swiftly when there is a pandemic. They also need to do what they can to contain the virus and prevent it from being spread elsewhere. However, this has also resulted in great pressure for doctors, who are expected by the public to respond accurately to the pandemic. They may also be blamed if the virus failed to be contained and when more and more people are affected by the virus.

Healthcare is an issue pertinent to people across all ages, and being a doctor has never been an easy task. Today, doctors have to handle a wider range of healthcare issues, and young Singaporeans aspiring to become doctors will have a tough road ahead of them. However, instead of perceiving this as a burden, they could see this as a chance to be one of the very best in the world. The healthcare team will be the key to maintain the excellence of Singapore’s healthcare systems, and patients can only benefit from the high standard of care provided. And for doctors, maintaining their passion to do the best for the patients can be the key to enduring these greater expectations. MIMS

Read more:
Why is there a need for foreign-trained doctors in Singapore?
Should Singaporean nurses feel threatened by the influx of foreign nurses?
Xenophobia: The suffering foreign-qualified doctors face in host countries
5 upsides to every doctor’s career

Sources:
https://www.pacificprime.sg/blog/2016/10/20/singapore-healthcare-efficiency/
http://theindependent.sg/how-prepared-is-singapore-to-tackle-its-aging-population/
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/old-and-home-alone-in-singapore
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/two-new-zika-cases-reported-taking-total-past-400/3181804.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35425731
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/pressRoom/pressRoomItemRelease/2016/first-case-of-locally-transmitted-zika-virus-infection.html
https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/costs_and_financing/schemes_subsidies/pioneer-generation-package.html
http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/visualising-data/storyboards/population-trends