,Singapore

SG can ramp up ICU capacity but lacks people: Puthucheary

The minister addressed the Parliament about intensive care units and hospital capacity.

In a statement to the Parliament, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said Singapore has the resources to increase intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. However, he said the country also lacks the people to allocate the resources effectively.

"Logistically, we can keep stepping up our ICU beds. We have ventilators, equipment, consumables, all the things that are needed. But not enough people," commented Puthucheary. "As a result, when we increase beds, we stretch and stretch our healthcare workers. We will come to the point that they will no longer be able to provide that continuous excellent care."

The minister warned about the nurse-to-patient ratio decrease. He pointed out that in an ideal ICU setting, one nurse looks after one or two patients. "If they have to look after four, they will not have enough hands or time to provide the same level of care."

The past fortnight has seen ICU staff "stretched to their limit," with a peak of 171 COVID cases in ICU. However, the cases have since come down to 130. They occupy around 60% of the 219 ICU beds currently reserved for COVID-19 patients.

The minister revealed that the Ministry of Health is currently working with hospitals to ramp up from 219 to 280 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients this week. If needed, the next expansion will be up to 350 beds.

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