Friday, 23 December 2011

Medication subsidy red tape: Polyclinic explains

WE THANK Mr Chong Yoon Some for his feedback ('Reduce red tape for getting subsidised medicine'; Wednesday).

Mr Chong's father was attended to by a Home Nursing Foundation (HNF) nurse at home after his discharge from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. While doctors at the nursing foundation helped with prescriptions for medication refills, such prescriptions from HNF are currently not subsidised.

When Mr Chong subsequently received a memo from his father's surgeon at Tan Tock Seng Hospital to explain the patient's condition and a note for subsidised medication, he had assumed that he could collect the subsidised medication directly at the polyclinic's pharmacy with the hospital's memo.

We have explained to Mr Chong that this is not a routine practice.

Our polyclinic doctors will still need to assess the patient's condition before any prescription can be made.

Mr Chong has accepted our explanation and we have made arrangements for him to obtain subsequent medication refills through clinical co-management between the HNF nurses and our polyclinic doctors.

Dr Karen Ng
Head, Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic
National Healthcare Group Polyclinics
ST Forum, 17 Dec 2011

Reduce red tape for getting subsidised medicine

AFTER my father had his left foot amputated for a non-healing wound at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, he could not leave home because it was hard for him to walk. Initially, the Home Nursing Foundation arranged for his medication so he could stay home.

But when his medicine ran low, I was unable to replenish his drugs at the National Healthcare Group's (NHG) Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic. The staff said the previous prescription had expired, and a doctor had to examine my father before a new one could be issued.

The foundation stepped in again to dispatch a doctor to examine my father at home. He was given the same prescription for another six months.

While we had no problem obtaining the medication from the polyclinic this time, the cost of the drugs spiked from $30 to $120 for a month's supply.

When I sought an explanation about the discrepancy, I was told that the cost difference was because no subsidy had been granted.

NHG advised me to obtain a referral letter from Tan Tock Seng Hospital to enable my father to receive the subsidy.

Given that the hospital and polyclinic are under the NHG umbrella, why is there a need for such red tape?

Nonetheless, I wrote to the hospital, which furnished a letter that allowed me to obtain subsidised medication at the polyclinic. But the polyclinic pharmacist told me to register to see a doctor to receive the subsidy.

Previously, when I agreed to forgo the subsidy, the red tape disappeared and the medication was dispensed without fuss.

Chong Yoon Some
ST Forum, 14 Dec 2011

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