3rd Feb 2021
NAME AND CONSTITUENCY OF MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song
MP for Aljunied GRC
QUESTION NO. 423
To ask the Minister for Health (a) in the last three years, what is the median waiting time to get an appointment for non-emergency dental services such as scaling and polishing at polyclinics; and (b) whether the capacity of non-emergency dental services at polyclinics will be increased in light of relaxed safe distancing measures in Phase 3 to meet growing demand from the general population.
The median waiting time for new dental appointments for non-emergency dental services (such as scaling and polishing) at our polyclinics in 2018 and 2019 was around four months. This increased to 5.3 months in 2020, arising from the need for additional safe management measures. Emergency dental cases (such as pain, swelling) at the polyclinics will be seen on the same day. Emergency dental cases which cannot be managed at the polyclinics will be referred to the National Dental Specialty Centres [National Dental Centre, Singapore (NDCS) and National University Centre for Oral Health (NUCOHS)] where they will also be seen on the same day.
As Singapore re-opens following the Circuit Breaker, dental capacity at the polyclinics is gradually returning closer to normal, but there are safe management measures that still need to be in place. In Phase 3, dental clinics are still required to maintain safe management measures including seeing patients by appointment basis, instituting crowd management measures, and putting in place infection prevention and control measures to reduce the risk of cross infection. Some of the earlier measures, such as having a 15 to 45-minute resting interval between patients, have been relaxed. The polyclinics will continue to prioritise urgent/emergency and time-sensitive cases, including patients whose dental care were deferred in 2020. MOH would like to seek patients’ understanding during this exceptional period.
Pioneer Generation (PG), Merdeka Generation (MG), as well as Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Blue and Orange card holders now enjoy subsidies for dental services for selected non-emergency procedures at private CHAS dental clinics. MOH regularly monitors and reviews primary care dental capacity provided by private CHAS dental clinics and public polyclinics, both of which provide subsidised non-emergency dental services. There are currently over 800 CHAS dental clinics. Residents can also look forward to dental services in the upcoming Polyclinics such as Eunos Polyclinic that is scheduled to open in 2021.
We will continue to monitor and meet the dental care needs of Singaporeans at the appropriate settings.