Singapore

Quiet start for MOH's designated GP clinics

The first day of operations for general practice clinics designated to provide treatment for people with respiratory symptoms went smoothly, as the Ministry of Health (MOH) activated at least 687 clinics yesterday in its Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) network.

MOH also sent out two weeks' worth of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to PHPCs, including N95 and surgical masks, disposable gowns, and gloves.

Six clinics and clinic chains told The Straits Times they saw no significant difference in the number of patients seeking medical attention, but were anticipating more in the coming days.

Dr Leong Choon Kit, a family physician at Mission Medical Clinic in Serangoon, said: "Once news spreads about the scheme, it might prompt more people to see the doctor."

Clinic chains Healthway Medical, Raffles Medical and Northeast Medical Group are making preparations by marking out separate seating areas for patients with respiratory symptoms, and taking precautions with their staff.

Dr Tan Teck Jack, medical director of Northeast Medical Group, which has nine clinics, said: "We will designate a separate area where patients with fever, cough or a runny nose are seated away from other patients, or we will have them seated outside our clinics while waiting for their turns. They should also have masks on and those with more severe symptoms will be isolated and the doctor informed immediately."

Healthway Medical, which is expecting a 10 per cent increase in numbers, said doctors and clinic staff will be wearing PPEs.

"Our central procurement team is working around the clock to adequately stock all clinics with the necessary medications and equipment to deal with the increased patient load," said Dr John Cheng, head of primary care at the group, which has 47 PHPCs.

Citizens and permanent residents will pay a flat rate of $10 for consultation and treatment at PHPCs, while the Pioneer and Merdeka generation Singaporeans will pay $5.

Doctors at all clinics, including those not designated as a PHPC, have been advised to give five days of sick leave to patients with respiratory symptoms.

coronavirus