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To ask the Minister for Health (a) how many patient navigators are currently employed across the restructured hospitals and specialty centres; (b) what is the ratio of patient navigators to patients on active follow-up and patients with complex medical conditions respectively; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider provisioning for additional patient navigator manpower and support given the ageing population and patients facing more complex co-morbidities.

Written Answer

Patient navigators are staff who help patients steer through the healthcare system or find appropriate care options. Depending on the institution, they may also be referred to as care coordinators, case managers, service associates, or programme coordinators. In some instances, such work may also be undertaken directly by trained nurses. As at end 2020, there were around 360 staff with patient navigation roles, including trained nurses, across public acute hospitals and specialty centres on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis.

Care coordination is one of the key domains under the Skills Framework for Healthcare (SFH) for nurses. This equips nurses with patient navigation skills to help coordinate healthcare staff to work collaboratively to deliver quality care to our patients. For example, the Community Nursing Pilot project led by our Regional Health Systems has developed the competencies and capacity of community nurses to support the healthcare needs of seniors in the community. As of end 2020, there were 124 community nurses under this pilot project.

As patient navigation can be performed by a combination of healthcare staff trained in care coordination, the ratios of staff to patients are determined by the respective institutions based on their workload and patients’ needs. Based on data from public acute hospitals and specialty centres, the number of staff with patient navigation roles has increased by three percent annually over the past three years (2018 to 2020).

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