NMP Gerald Giam should not accept Health Minister’s nonsensical reply

Health Minister Gan’s long winded parliamentary reply did not answer NMP Gerald Giam’s question.

Gerald Giam: “Are public hospitals still marketing their international patient services to foreigners because these would naturally add to the bed crunch as well?”

Parliament will make a mockery of itself if it continues to allow questions to go unanswered.

Gan used percentage terms to explain link but ended up confusing himself.

Allow me to translate into absolute terms for a better understanding.

Foreign patients in our hospitals occupy 2 per cent of hospital beds.
Total number of beds in public hospitals: 9,180 (2012 figure) round off to 9,200. Singstat (see Health)
1 per cent=92, 2 per cent = 184 beds
(Gan says figure from his “recollection” so room for error, “less than 2 %” could be 1.99 %)

Bed crunch so severe until beds placed along corridors and in tents = 0 beds left.
Public hospitals provided foreign patients 184 beds (Gan says small number) = deprived 184 beds from Singaporean patients/downgrading us to corridor/tent wards.

Gan thinks this is acceptable.


With Gan evading the question, it is likely our public hospitals are still marketing their international patient services.

Public hospitals should not admit foreign patients and deprive Singaporeans of hospital beds. Period. Gan should have simply admitted that Singaporeans should be given priority, agree to channel all invited foreign patients to private hospitals in future, learn from whatever mistakes and move on. Gan shouldn’t try to save face, beat around the bush and try to wriggle out of a mistake. Singaporeans are by and large a forgiving lot and we are really not dumb.

As the Health Minister, Gan should have known better than to suka suka substitute ‘patients’ with ‘visitors’. His reply was carefully worded – foreign patients are called ‘visitors’ while Singaporeans are ‘patients’. ‘Foreign visitors’ was used 3 times before switching back to ‘patients’ when talking about the local condition.

Foreign patients are called visitors (every statement Gan made was positive about foreigners)
Foreign visitors form a very small component of our hospital beds
foreign visitors in our hospitals take up less than 2% of our hospital beds
foreign visitors do not pose a significant stress on our hospital beds

Local patients are called…. patients. ($400,000 spent to rename Marina Bay, Marina Bay link)
So it depends on how many patients arrive at the A&E
how many patients we plan to discharge
Once you admit a patient into a hospital ward, it is not just for one day
the patients will take up the bed for a couple of days, or three-four days

NMP Gerald should not accept a nonsensical reply. Parliament is not the ST/ST Forum.

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