Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter about Parkway Novena Hospital

Hi Friends,

I owe The Straits Times' editor a treat. I have given him so much extra work!

Recently,whenever I write a letter to the ST forum, he/she has to:
1. take out French words
2. take out financial concepts like "triple bottomline" and "corporate social responsibility"
3. rewrite most parts leaving only some ideas behind
4. take out the fizz so as to avoid too much controversy ( such as putting the government on the spot)

Well done editor! You have succeeded on all counts!

I wonder if I leave French words out in the future, I can be spared more of the editor's scissors?

Anyway, Letter A is the letter printed in ST Forum today (28 Feb 08) and the actual letter is specimen B.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

A: Printed on ST Forum (28th Feb 2008)

Reconsider 'single-room only' plan for hospital

THE news of Parkway Holdings' plan to build a new private hospital on its freshly acquired site in Novena raises a few questions.

True, Parkway Holdings, like all businesses, must try and maximise profit. But we are also living in a new, enlightened economy where the bottom line is not only financial responsibility, but environmental and social as well.

The implications of the company's winning bid of $1.25 billion - more than double that of the second- highest bid - and its plan to offer only A-class single- room beds and better are obvious: It intends to cater only to the super-rich and its patients can expect to be charged supra-normal rates.

Yet, the payback for the company will be derived not only from the patients found by its new hospital, but from patients of its present stable of hospitals at Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and Eastshore.

Not all private hospital patients are super-rich. Not all patients admitted to the company's hospitals are wealthy. Many are ordinary Singaporeans who patronise these hospitals because the specialists with whom they have built a relationship over a period of time now practise there.
These patients are mostly middle-income earners who scrimp and save to afford treatment at Parkway's hospitals.

Parkway Holdings should reconsider its 'single-room only' policy for the Novena hospital. Having double- and four-bedder rooms, like other hospitals, will make health care more affordable and increase choices for our patients.

There should also be such provisions in the tender process to allow more Singaporeans the chance to afford private patient care and help relieve the pressure on public and restructured hospitals.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

B: The letter I actually wrote

Dear editor,

We follow the news about Parkways’ new Novena hospital with interest and concern.

Profit maximization the raison d’etre?

We understand that Parkway is a publicly listed company and up till the recent past, it is accepted that the raison d’etre of all business corporations was profit maximization. “Make hay while the sun shines” so to say.

However the buzzword for the “enlightened” new economy are concepts like “corporate social responsibility” and the “triple bottom-line” where emphasis is not just on financial results but also on environmental and social responsibilities.

With Parkway winning the Novena tender with a “must-win” bid of $1.25 billion for the plot of land and its subsequent proposed strategy of catering to the super-rich ( it will have the single A-class room as its lowest room option), the implications are obvious.

Implications for Singapore’s healthcare- More Inflation

This above-market price (a miscalculation to some analysts) would be earned back by charging patients supra-normal rates. The payback would come not just the new hospital’s patients but also from patients of its present stable of Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and Eastshore hospitals. Parkway has already implied that the existing hospitals’ charges will be raised when Novena hospital is completed.

Where does this new development lead Singapore’s healthcare to? Further inflation- what else?

Not all private hospital patients are super-rich

Not all patients that are admitted to Parkway’s hospitals are rich. Many are ordinary folks who come to these hospitals as their trusted specialists practise there. These mostly middle class patients “scrim and save” when they need hospitalization treatment. Another pull factor for these patients is the shorter waiting time compared to the government hospitals which are simply overcrowded.

Parkway’s win may encourage monopolistic behavior as they now control almost all the premier private hospitals.

No other tender condition but “highest bid wins”?

We are also surprised that “highest bidder wins” seemed to be the only winning criteria. Does not it make sense that as the land sold belongs to the state, the tendering authorities should have stipulated some basic conditions such has having rooms that are affordable for the majority of Singaporeans? Why should Parkway be the only beneficiary? How about the people?

Some questions that require answers

1. Will Parkway reconsider its “only single room” policy for the Novena hospital. Having double and 4-bedder rooms like everywhere else will make healthcare more affordable and increase choices for our patients.

2.What has the government done to prevent anti-competitive monopolistic practices?

3. Should not more land be released for hospital development?

Would the relevant authorities and entities please comment?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


roto said...

You can try to beef up your English, make it more powderful than the editors. Write in a scholarly way and jam it up the anus of the editors.

But then, it is the way the editors are instructed to do. I don't get it. If the editors like to modify letters and the letters lose their original perspectives on things written, why the hell you called it a forum. Might as well call it "GP Corner".

Sorry for the use of sexual organs in this comment, but no animal was hurt in writing it.

cheekenwing said...

The letters in the ST Forum have a very consistent style that the editor tries to maintain. They are typically non-confrontational, non-emotive, brief, and simple. Using French words and having bullet points in your letters just gives the editor more work, since he obviously believes that the structure of each letter published is more important than the form in which it was originally expressed. Eventually, if you want to be published without much editing, you'll have to think like the editor and self-censor. It might make you feel rather 'caged in', but hey, that's Singapore isn't it :)

nofearSingapore said...

I am a doctor, so I know anatomy. You can use as much anatomy as you want on my blog! Haha
I suppose the editors have their agenda ( not all of it bad) and they have to edit some parts of the letter to make it more readable and more easy for the majority to read. ( But maybe also to edit potentially defamatory or slanderous parts – which mine does not have!). But remember their paymaster is still SPH which is govt-controlled.

If I think too much like ST’s editor and self-censor, then I might just as well read the ST and believe everything they say. I think the editor should try to let the forum pages reflect the feelings of the majority of readers. Sigh! I am thinking like an idealist again! Sorry!

aliendoc said...

"True, Parkway Holdings, like all businesses, must try and maximise profit. But we are also living in a new, enlightened economy where the bottom line is not only financial responsibility, but environmental and social as well."

Parkway, as far as I know, is a local company (albeit expanding to other countries in the region). I am enough of a skeptic to say that local companies still fall far behind as far as enviornmental & social responsibilities are concerned compared to MNC's...kinda like how Singaporeans still fall behind in being gracious, & civil to each other.

Hence the almighty $$$ still occupies the highest priority when such decisions are made.

Anonymous said...

Very soon, Temasek will announce that they will have a big stake in Parkway Holdings.

"Parkway Holdings is poised to reap huge profits catering to the rich and famous from all over the world, particularly those from the middle east and Indonesia. These are the clients where living costs is immaterial. Sick or die must also be six star treatment."

It took the govt so bloody long to justify the building of hospitals to cater to Singaporeans. Out of the blue, Parkway Holdings has put in billion dollar bid to build one. The difference is obvious.

The one that caters to lower income and middle class Singaporeans will have to give way to the one that does not require means testing at all.

This land sale will add another
"feather to the govt's cap" come Budget 2009. However, it's Singaporeans' loss over the long term.

Anonymous said...

I predict that one day you'll see that you're writing for Google/Blogger and will want a blog of your own. Many bloggers will want their own blogs by then, and Google to retain its writers will come up with a smart-ass ad like 'Blog at Blogger', 'Only Blogger has blogs' or 'Only a Blog is A Blog' (rather like Sony's 'Only a Sony is a Walkman).

Neil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trevon said...

If a company wants to win a tender they have to make sure that the tender they have written is correct. The bid writers should consider a lot of details before writing a tender or a bid.