SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will look into suggestions about the queueing and online appointment systems at polyclinics, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary on Monday (May 8), after several Members of Parliaments raised concerns about residents being unable to get appointments.
During a Parliamentary question on whether polyclinics can scale up their capacity to accommodate more walk-in patients with urgent medical conditions, Mr Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang), Mr Ang Wei Neng (PAP-West Coast) and Dr Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) said their residents could not secure online appointments, much less walk-in slots.
Dr Tan suggested that general practitioner clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) scheme could be integrated into the online booking process.
“Some may be quite elderly, less able to go online, less able to quickly click to secure the appointment when the bookings open. I have residents who tell me that for some of the polyclinics, the online slots are used up within half an hour of the online booking starting on some days,” he added.
He also asked if MOH was tracking whether fewer seniors are able to book their slots online.
Dr Puthucheary affirmed that a “high proportion” of the polyclinics’ workload comes from seniors.
Dr Tan’s suggestion to integrate CHAS general practitioner clinics into an online booking system was also worth studying, and MOH will look into how it can improve access to primary care services, he added.
Mr Ang shared that some of his residents were not able to secure appointments, even after going down in person to queue for one.
“Can they queue, if they can’t get an appointment, can they get a next-day appointment?” he asked.
He also pointed out that most of the polyclinics that are currently under construction are in other parts of Singapore, but not in the Jurong area.
“So how are we going to alleviate the situation at Pioneer Polyclinic?” said Mr Ang.
MOH will look into Mr Ang’s suggestion about the queueing system for appointments, said Dr Puthucheary.
“We are trying very hard to improve the service provision for primary care by both expanding our network of polyclinics as well as leveraging on the experience and capability of the general practitioner clinics and family physicians that are in the community and that can serve this resident population very well,” he continued.