Sunday, July 11, 2010

Singapore Healthcare- Collective response from some Gleneagles specialists

Hi Friends,

The letter below was written after a group of Gleneagles specialist doctors felt that what Dr Lee Wei Ling ( yes she is MM's daughter but she usually still has a mind of her own) wrote  in the previous week's column made a lot of sense (Training GP's to be family physicians) . And as usual, they turned to me and said, " SC, can you write to the papers and say that we support her on this" and like they say- the rest was history.

It was almost like drafting a UN resolution- some contentious items were left out and the final  result was agreeable to most ( but some had cold feet- but that's another story).

I did not expect anyone to read the letter as it was only on the online edition. But the miracle of the internet meant that obscure stuff does get picked but by some and  apparently, angrydoc did just that but  unfortunately he ( or she) is negative and cynical about any government intervention ( he calls it subsidy).  Read his blog post here : Subsidy and other pre-occupations

From the tone of angrydoc- I guess the 27 ( and some others who did not get to sign it as I was rushing it to the editor) will be considered "Old School" ( or even anachronistic) doctors who believe that Medicine is about healing the sick ( and not just pandering to some who wish to look younger or cannot accept what Nature has provided). 

Of even more concern to us is the crass commercialization that has seeped into most aspects of Medicine in Singapore.

I guess if this bit of activism does not achieve anything- we can console ourselves that we did not just stand idly by and behaved like so many sad accounts of how Singaporeans just sat immobile whilst some poor girl was being assaulted on a crowded bus or how some flat dwellers said that , yes, they heard violent noises of someone being killed but they wanted to just mind their own business. 

My 27 Gleneagles friends are not like that- we feel things can be better and that our opinions do  matter.


Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

The letter that was published in the online forum page (12 May 2010)

Get GPs back on track

WE ARE doctors specialising in various fields at Gleneagles Medical Centre and we support Dr Lee Wei Ling's gallant attempts to bring medicine in Singapore back to its noble roots ('Train GPs to be family physicians'; April 21).

We suggest the following:

Invasive aesthetic procedures should be carried out only by doctors who have had adequate surgical training. Only then will the practitioner be able to recognise the early signs of complications. Complications happen even in the best surgeon's hands, but it is often how soon these are detected and the course of action taken that determine the fate of the patient. Aesthetic medicine is here to stay and the Ministry of Health (MOH) should organise properly sanctioned courses for all doctors who are keen to carry out invasive aesthetic procedures. The bar must not be set too low, and being allowed to carry out such dangerous procedures after attending dubious one- to two-day courses should be a thing of the past.

General practitioners (GPs) are the vanguards of our health-care system. We want each GP to take his proper place as a 'specialist in taking care of the entire patient'. All of them have undergone training at great expense to the state or their families. MOH should make available rotation positions at various hospital departments for all GPs before they start work and at regular intervals after that, to provide opportunities for 'refreshers' to those who feel they need updates or have gaps in their knowledge of certain specialities. National service 'reservist-style' make-up pay is innovative and workable for this.

• Government subventions for GPs to treat subsidised cases is a win-win for all. GPs get more income and hence will be less likely to go for the more lucrative 'aesthetic medicine' route, and the already overcrowded polyclinics will be able to perform even better. In the same vein, many private specialists are also keen to help by treating subsidised patients who are presently referred to overcrowded specialist clinics at public hospitals.

The medical profession should do regular soul-searching, and if we find that we have deviated from our intended paths, we should have the courage to take remedial actions to rectify this.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan 

NB: The Straits Times Editor chose to ignore the fact that the letter above was signed by 27 specialists of Gleneagles Medical Centre