Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Bill [Bill No. 39/2016]
Madam, the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital has contributed its services for years, serving Singapore since 1910.
As it transitions into the next phase of its development, I am heartened to see that it continues to serve the public in the spirit of charity.
As I learn about its makeover to be re-opened as Singapore’s largest nursing home, I am assured of our government’s focus on our elderly, and to ensure that they are being well cared for. I was impressed with the amount of effort and planning put in to ensure that it is not just any nursing home, but one which bucks the trend, and sets higher standards for all new nursing homes in Singapore.
Seeking clarifications on the new “Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital”
Madam, while I stand in support of this Bill and understand that it deals with the legal transfer of assets and liabilities (from the “Kwong-Wai-Shiu Free Hospital” to “Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital”), allow me to use this opportunity to seek a few clarifications.
I understand that MOH funded the expansion of Kwong Wai Shiu. Can I check if it will also be providing the operations of the new entity?
Secondly, will existing employees be directly re-employed by the new entity?
Thirdly, referring to Clause 4(1) which states that every trustee and committee member will cease to function in their roles on the transfer date.
As a hospital with a long history, I trust that the trustees and committee members have been involved in the hospital’s operation for many years, building up valuable relationships with stakeholders. Will they still be able to contribute after leaving or will they be invited to serve in the new Board?
Finally, I refer to news reports announcing that the new 12-storey facility will be completed in 2017. Could the Minister provide an update on whether or not we are on track for the date of launch?
The future of Singapore’s nursing homes
Madam, I also take this opportunity to share a few comments on Singapore’s Action Plan to raise our capacity to provide for our ageing population.
I understand that the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital is unique in its approach. For example, it will be a one-stop shop for services ranging from TCM to specialised wards to treat dementia. It is also not gated, and members of the public can enter freely to use its services.
There will be other innovative functions such as a “haze management zone” and a “memory street” on every floor to help the elderly retain their memories. This is an excellent step forward in the design of nursing homes, and I hope that all new nursing homes will also model this approach.
Lastly, I understand from nurses on the ground that one of the key issues faced is the lack of available beds for patients with higher acuity of care in nursing homes. For example, this includes patients who require tracheostomy care. Such patients are often left to wait for available beds for up to a year while in the acute hospitals.
Another category is patients who are undergoing haemodialysis. Many have been rejected from nursing homes and families find it difficult to cope as there are few options available.
I hope this issue would be taken into consideration and new nursing homes will be able to accommodate those with acute conditions as well.
Madam, the above comments notwithstanding, I stand in support of this Bill.