Taiwan’s ‘hospital beds ratio’ 3x S’pore’s?

Photo: By Bidgee/ CC BY-SA 2.0Photo: By Bidgee/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Is having a ‘hospital beds to population’ ratio that is only about a third of Taiwan’s – something to celebrate on our 53rd National Day? 

I refer to the article “Singapore public hospitals cave under pressure of overcrowding” (msn, Aug 9).

It states that “”Due to a variety of factors like an ageing population, increasing mortality rates and medical tourism, a growing portion of people in Singapore are seeking hospital care, which could be causing hospital overcrowding especially if the supply of medical resources has not kept up,” said ValuePenguin Singapore analyst Anastassia Evlanova.

The supply of medical beds is also unable to keep up with the number of sick Singaporeans with the annual number of acute hospital patients per bed edging up from 51 patients per bed in 2015 to 55 in a mere two years time.

Evlanova also noted that the average occupancy rates of Singapore public hospitals are around 85% but usually peak to as much as 93% during weekdays.

The amount of waiting time to be admitted to a ward from the emergency department also falls at around 2.5 hours, Evlanova said, citing health ministry data. This metric is used for hospital overcapacity as this suggests that there is not enough personnel to handle patient requirements.

“Furthermore, we found that hospitals have the longest wait times during the middle of the week, with an average wait time of 3.2 hours between Tuesdays and Thursdays compared to an average wait time of 1.6 hours on weekends and 2.3 hours on Monday or Friday,” she added.

Of the six public hospitals, Tan Tong Seng Hospital had the longest waiting time at around 4.5 hours during the time of study and had the second highest bed occupancy rate of 95%. Singapore General Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, National University Hospital and Changi General Hospital had respective waiting time periods of 3.7 hours, 2.3 hours, 2.2 hours and 1.7 hours.

On the other hand, Khoo Tek Phuat Hospital had the shortest waiting time at 0.7 hours.

“Unfortunately, because the geriatric population is growing more quickly than hospital facilities can realistically keep up with, it seems like more and more Singaporeans will experience overcrowding at hospitals,” Evlanova concluded.”

In this connection, according to the Department of Statistics’ Yearbook of Statistics 2017 – the total number of hospital beds increased from 11,206 in 2009 to 13,258 in 2015.

This works out to an increase of 18.3 per cent (13,258 divided by 11,206).

In contrast, the population increased by 11.8 per cent from 4.99 million in 2009 to 5.54 million in 2015.

So, since hospital beds increased much more in percentage terms (18.3%) than the population (11.8%) – why do we have an acute shortage of beds now?

Well, the total number of hospital beds dropped from 11,936 in 2001 to 11,394 in 2011 – number of hospital admissions increased from 384,054 to 469,445 – medical tourists increased to 850,000 a year – and the population increased by 1.1 million.

S’pore’s hospital beds increased 11% from 2001 to 2015?

Also, the number of total hospital beds in Singapore was 11,936 in 2001 and only increased by about 11.1 per cent to 13,258 (13,258 divided by 11,936 beds) from 2001 to 2015.

Population increased 35% by 1.44m?

Against this, the population increased by 35.1 per cent from 4.1 million in 2001 to 5.54 million in June 2015.

Hong Kong’s ratio of hospital beds double S’pore’s?

There were a total of 31,819 hospital beds in Hong Kong (Number of Hospital Beds in Hospitals in Hospital Authority 27,805 + Number of Hospital Beds in Private Hospitals 4,014) for end 2015.

This works out to a hospital beds to population ratio of 44 hospital beds per 10,000 population (31,819 beds divided by 7,305,700 population).

In contrast, Singapore’s 13,258 hospital beds in 2015, according to the Department of Statistics’ Yearbook of Statistics 2017 – works out to a ratio of only 24 beds per 10,000 population (13,258 divided by 5,540,000).

So, does it mean that Hong Kong’s ratio is almost double (44 divided by 24 = 83 per cent more) Singapore’s?

Taiwan’s ratio of hospital beds triple S’pore’s?

For Taiwan, the ratio was 69.03 (2015).

So, does it mean that Taiwan’s ratio was almost triple (69.03 divided by 24 = 188 per cent more) Singapore’s?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.