Public emergency departments (EDs) across the island are facing high numbers of patients and longer wait times than usual.
Up to 50 hours for a bed, six hours for a consultation
On Oct. 19, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) and Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) experienced waiting times of up to 50 hours for a bed, reported CNA.
Waiting times for consultations were estimated at four to six hours.
A spokesperson from NTFGH confirmed that the waiting time for patients with non-urgent conditions remains as long as to six hours.
In the meantime, non-clinical staff volunteers have been activated to help ease the patient load.
For instance, they can serve patients meals and update patients' families on their admission status, they told Mothership.
NTFGH emphasised that patients with life-threatening or serious conditions will be attended to first.
"We urge members of the public to visit their nearest GP or polyclinic if their condition is mild or non-critical," said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the situation at SKH appears to have returned to normal, with a visitor sharing in an Instagram Story on the afternoon of Oct. 20 that the estimated waiting time to see a doctor is now an hour and 22 minutes.
Other public hospitals in Singapore have not been spared either.
At KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), waiting times at the Children's Emergency can reach four hours to see a doctor, a healthcare worker told Mothership.
She added that at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), waiting times were up to six hours last weekend.
SGH also issued a notice on Facebook on Oct. 20 to inform people about the surge in patients at ED, and the current wait time remains to be six hours for non-urgent cases.
Hospital bed crunch
Bed occupancy rates are also high, ranging from 74.7 per cent to 97.6 per cent between Sep. 25 and Oct. 1.
This could be due to an increase in patients with severe conditions, CNA reported.
It quoted one senior doctor at a public hospital as saying:
“A lot of older people didn't go to see a GP doctor or get their medications refilled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and just let it lapse for whatever reason,” said one senior doctor who works at a public hospital."
“So the patients who are coming in are sicker and because of that, they have to stay in the hospital.”
The unnamed doctor added that the manpower crunch has also been worsened by the current wave of Covid-19 cases, as many junior doctors have fallen sick.
According to ST, the bed crunch has become so severe that it has spilled over to the emergency departments.
MOH aware, says hospitals will activate mitigatory measures
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it is aware of the situation at emergency departments in public hospital, said the ST report.
An MOH spokesperson said that hospitals will activate measures to mitigate "peak periods of congestion" at EDs.
These include activating inpatient teams to tend to patients in the ED, creating additional beds in wards and holding spaces in EDs, and transferring patients to the wards as soon as possible.
A spokesman from the Singapore Civil Defence Force told ST that it has arrangements with private hospitals to send stable patients to them if necessity arises.
MOH has asked Parkway East Hospital to make 25 beds available under this scheme, with the first patients transferred there on Oct. 19, ST reported.
Top image from @aliina_ali_ and NTFGH.