Photo of Polyclinic queue from Straits Times

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH), the waiting time at polyclinics has increased 30% longer in 2017. MOH claimed that the median waiting time is 18 minutes today, compared to 14 minutes a year ago. However these figures by MOH do not reflect the state of shortage in public healthcare, as the median waiting time is a mix of patient visits of those with appointments and walk-in patients.

MOH revealed that the waiting time for walk-in patients could be up to more than 3 hours and did not give the average waiting time for walk-in patients. One in 20 patients waited more than 70 to 100 minutes to see a doctor, and this exclude registration, queuing for medicine and new appointment arrangement.

Also, the increase in the number of Singaporeans eligible for subsidised healthcare under the CHAS program, signalled an increase in poverty in the country. To be eligible for CHAS, a Singaporean must live on less than S$1,800 a month in household income per person. There has also been a rapid increase in subsidised doctor visits, from 5.98 million in 2014 to 7.81 million in 2016.

In the past decade, there has always been a shortage in hospital beds. The shortage in healthcare supply is largely due to an increased population, which is 5.7 million in 2016. The government is targeting a 6.9 million population by 2030, but public infrastructure is unable to keep pace with the population growth.