Hospitals will take months to clear backlog

With many follow-up visits and elective operations postponed to accommodate the rising number of Covid-19 patients, it will take months for hospitals to catch up with the backlog.

Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said this on Thursday during a panel discussion at this year's Singapore Health & Biomedical Congress.

Because of the pandemic, a number of people with chronic diseases have not been able to go to hospitals for their follow-up checks, said Associate Professor Mak.

This was also the case last year when Singapore went into a circuit breaker period from April, with tough restrictions put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

"For a number of people, we've managed to mitigate concerns about not being able to come back to hospitals through the use of telehealth technologies. But that is not everyone," said Prof Mak.

"There will be a subgroup of patients who will come back with illnesses and diseases perhaps worse off, because they have not come back to hospitals for regular follow-ups."

These patients may have skipped taking their medication or failed to refill their prescription, he said.

"There is the expectation that we will be quite busy looking after even these patients as well," noted Prof Mak.

Hospitals have been busy looking after Covid-19 patients, but a number of them have outreach programmes to look after existing patients with chronic diseases, he said.

"So we hope that this pool of people with conditions worsening is not big, but nonetheless, catching up will take months," Prof Mak said.

He added that the pool includes patients needing elective operations, and those who have been waiting to return for day surgery and major surgery.

"Even though we've prioritised those with urgent conditions and cancers, there are still a lot of patients who would have other conditions that require treatment in the hospital setting," said Prof Mak.

Singapore is now battling a wave of Covid-19 infections that has put pressure on the healthcare system.

The Strait Times


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