Thursday, 2 May 2019

New health hub in Jurong to integrate bigger polyclinic with 700-bed nursing home by 2025

Integrated facilities set to be ready by 2025; nursing home will also offer short-term care for elderly
By Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 1 May 2019

A new health hub will be built in Jurong that integrates a much bigger polyclinic with a 700-bed nursing home that will also provide short-term care for the elderly, so caregivers can have a break.

Announcing this yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said the move is timely, as Jurong's population is older than the national average.

By 2025, when the new polyclinic and nursing home are ready, one in four residents would be more than 65 years old.

To cater to them, the polyclinic will have wider corridors to allow easy wheelchair access. It will be located 150m from the current polyclinic and will be 21/2 times larger.

The clinics will be built for teamlet care, where patients with complex chronic conditions are looked after by a team of doctors, nurses and care managers.

The nursing home will be next to the new Jurong Polyclinic to allow for synergy and some shared services.

Mr Ang Wei Neng, an MP for Jurong GRC, said Jurong Polyclinic used to be the most crowded in Singapore until Pioneer Polyclinic was opened in 2017 in Jurong West and took some of the load, although it remains crowded.

He added that the new polyclinic will have a more conducive environment.

This is the second nursing home and polyclinic to be co-located.

The first is in Bukit Panjang.

Dr Lam, who visited Jurong Polyclinic yesterday, said: "With the ageing population and increased prevalence of chronic diseases, there is an urgency to strengthen primary care and anchor the management of these conditions within the community."

This is why the Ministry of Health (MOH) is building more polyclinics as well as expanding the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) to cover more people.

Older polyclinics are being renovated, while several new ones are being built.

By 2030, there should be 30 to 32 polyclinics, up from the current 20.

From November, CHAS will cover another half a million people - those born between 1950 and 1959, or the Merdeka Generation.

There will also be a new Green card that any Singaporean may apply for. The CHAS Green tier is in addition to the existing CHAS Orange and Blue cards and gives up to $160 in subsidies a year.

MOH had earlier announced an additional 25 per cent subsidy for services and medication at polyclinics for the Merdeka Generation from November.

Pioneers already enjoy an additional 50 per cent off.

Dr Lam also announced some changes to strengthen CHAS, including a cap on the number of visits to a general practitioner (GP) clinic for acute problems.

Patients currently receive subsidies for up to four visits a month to one GP clinic.

But a patient could visit different clinics and receive subsidies up to four times a month at each clinic.

This will change from January next year to a maximum of 24 visits for acute problems a year.

About 99.5 per cent of patients now see GPs for acute problems under CHAS fewer than 24 times a year.

Dr Lam said those who need more visits can appeal and subsidies may be extended on a case-by-case basis. However, he added that someone who needs to see a doctor that often may be better off seeing a specialist.

From August, only one member of a household will need to apply for CHAS. Once approved, all members will enjoy the same level of subsidy.

Applications for CHAS subsidies can be made online the following month.

Tweaks will also be made to dental subsidies from November to align them with best practices.

Changes to CHAS dental subsidies from November 2019
By Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 1 May 2019

Dental subsidies under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be tweaked later this year.

From Nov 1, about 500,000 Singaporeans who were born between 1950 and 1959 will qualify for CHAS dental and medical subsidies under the Merdeka Generation Package.

These subsidies will be higher than those given to people who have been means-tested and hold the Blue or Orange CHAS cards.

Dentists will also be able to offer patients the option of amalgam and the more expensive tooth-coloured fillings from November, with both qualifying for the same amount of subsidy.

While amalgam fillings currently qualify for a lower subsidy, the price of tooth-coloured fillings has decreased and is now only slightly higher than amalgam.

As such, dentists can recommend the best option for patients, rather than choosing the one with the higher subsidy. There will also be changes covering dentures.

CHAS now subsidises treatment for up to two upper and two lower dentures every three years.

But this will change to one upper and one lower denture every three years, with no change in the amount subsidised.

This is because dentures usually last three to five years.

However, someone who loses an additional tooth can receive a subsidy to have it added to an existing denture.

The Ministry of Health said the tweaks are to align with changes in prices and practices.

Last year, a total of $64 million was given out for dental care under CHAS, which gives patients government subsidies for treatments at private medical and dental clinics.

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