Even as competition from Malaysia and Thailand in medical tourism intensifies, emergency air evacuations to the Republic have gone up, in what industry players see as part of a larger trend where more serious cases from overseas are being treated here.
Major evacuation service providers here reported a 10- to 20-per-cent rise in chartered air evacuations to Singapore over the past year. International SOS and Parkway Shenton have both seen a 10-per-cent rise, while the average growth for Hope Medflight Asia has been 20 per cent annually.This is due to patients and their families seeking the best treatment possible in times of emergency – for example, severe heart attacks or multiple trauma suffered. An Indonesian patient suffering chest pains and flown to Singapore is able to undergo stenting within an hour of touchdown, said Dr David Teo, International SOS’ medical director for Singapore and Malaysia.
“When it comes to an emergency, I will go to Singapore for the best chance of survival,” said Dr Teo.
While the qualification and professional standards of individual doctors and hospitals in neighbouring countries are rising, Singapore still holds the lead when it comes to the healthcare system as a whole – which includes standards of nurses, equipment, as well as post-operative care and rates of infection. Singapore’s strengths lie in neonatal and paediatrics, cardiac and burns, Dr Teo added.
Dr Tan Seow Hwee, medical director of Parkway Shenton, said: “There’s going to be more scope (for growth) because more multi-national companies are sending staff here, setting up headquarters, and they’re going to various places in South-east Asia. Staff stationed in Cambodia or Vietnam, I think, would still prefer to come here (for treatment).”
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