SMA in the News

Some articles in the media where SMA is mentioned:

2021

Sep

10 Sep 2021

Health Matters - Advocacy Groups For Medical Profession

CNA938
 

In a radio interview for CNA938, SMA President Dr Tan Yia Swam talked about the SMA's Doctors-in-Training (DIT) Committee and how the SMA serves as a platform to advocate for matters of importance to DIT. Dr Tan also gave examples of how SMA's work has been low key and behind the scenes, highlighting three main projects: (1) a nationwide survey in 2020 comparing residents' perception of the full overnight call system versus the night float system, (2) SMACF's assisting of students in need especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) acting as a central platform for all students especially returning overseas students who had their studies disrupted due to the pandemic. Dr Tan concluded by saying that as an NMP, the SMA is lent a more visible profile and national platform to raise issues.

Resources:
CNA938

Aug

3 Aug 2021

More doctors in singapore face burnout, anxiety amid pandemic

The Straits Times
 

An article in the Straits Times referenced an article written by SMA Council member and SMA News Editor Dr Tina Tan, published in May 2020. The article looked at how the mental well-being of doctors could be affected during the pandemic, and some ways to work around the detrimental effects. Dr Tan commented on the disincentive for doctors to seek help, as the Singapore Medical Council's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines obliges fellow practitioners to report a doctor who is deemed unfit to practicse. The article also mentions the support services provided by the Singapore Psychiatric Association and SMA, which can be found on the SMA website.


Jul

27 Jul 2021

Tan Yia Swam on support measures for phases 2 and 3 (Heightened Alert)

Channel Newsasia
 

In a Parliamentary speech, Dr Tan Yia Swam, President of SMA, questioned the effectiveness of continued spending on rostered routine testing, which have picked up a handful of cases. Dr Tan pointed out that there are less invasive methods of testing other than the deep nasal swab, which can have adverse effects on the patients. Dr Tan also brought up the effect multiple shutdowns have on the mental health of people, and how reopening milestones should be kept to.

Resources:
Channel NewsAsia

Jun

1 Jun 2021

Forum: Clarifying points raised in article on IP provider survey

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, Dr Ng Chew Lip, Honorary Secretary of SMA, clarified points raised in a previous article published in The Straits Times that highlighted the results of SMA's previous survey on Integrated Shield Plan (IP) providers in order to prevent misrepresentation. Dr Ng highlighted points on specialists not accepting remuneration within the Ministry of Health's fee benchmarks, specialists on IP panels being paid less than their usual fees and the percentage of specialists who wished to and were able to join IP panels. SMA is working within the Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee to address these issues, and hopes that clarifying these points will assist all parties in improving IP policies. Dr Ng also noted that SMA stands by the statement that the majority of specialists do not accept the full range of fee benchmark and that SMA can only go with respondents to the survey, as they did not have information on other panel specialists.


May

29 May 2021

Forum: Decisions on dental treatment should be made with patients' needs coming first

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, Dr Samintharaj Kumar, Chairman of the Committee for the Engagement of Dental Insurance Providers of the Singapore Dental Association, supported SMA's recent Position Statement on Trouble Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), agreeing that private insurance sectors have been exerting control over health professionals and patients. The SMA Position Statement highlighted longstanding issues with private insurance, and introduced the initiatives of an annual ranking of IP insurers and setting up a Complaints Committee for IPs and health insurance.


25 May 2021

Forum: GPs play critical role in the public health system

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, Adj A/Prof Tan Tze Lee, President of the College of Family Physicians Singapore and Council member of SMA and Dr Ruth Lim, Director of the Primary and Community Care Division at the Ministry of Health, addressed misinformation about GPs spreading on recent social media posts. Adj A/Prof Tan pointed out that family medicine is a recognised clinical discipline, and GPs undergo many years of training before being admitted to the Register of Family Physicians. While GPs and hospital-based specialists play different roles, both are essential especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and when writing about such issues publicly, facts should be checked and verified. The letter was jointly signed by Dr Tan Yia Swam, President of SMA and Prof Teo Eng Kiong, Master of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. 


Apr

12 Apr 2021

First aid tips: What should you do after being stung by a stingray, jellyfish or bee?

Channel NewsAsia Lifestyle
 

A Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) study titled "Cutaneous injuries from marine animals" was quoted in a report on first aid tips for animal stings. The study, published in the January 2007 issue of SMJ, reported on the potential severity of three different marine animal injuries, including early diagnosis and management of injuries.


3 Apr 2021

Panels come under scrutiny

The Straits Times
 

The Straits Times reported that Integrated Shield Plan (IP) providers' panels have become a much discussed topic. The Life Insurance Association said panels are valid and have value, being among the recommendations by the Health Insurance Task Force to help address overcharging, over-servicing and over-treatment. SMA highlighted that it is not against panels, but it wants more doctors included and for insurers to respect the whole range of fee benchmarks published by the Ministry of Health.

Resources:
The Straits Times

3 Apr 2021

MOH sets up body to discuss and resolve IP-related issues

The Straits Times
 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has set up a committee comprising itself, the Life Insurance Association (LIA), Academy of Medicine, Singapore and SMA to discuss and resolve IP-related issues and refine implementations recommended by the Health Insurance Task Force. The committee has had two dialogues since October 2020. In response to SMA's Position Statement on Troubled Integrated Shield Plans, LIA highlighted that managing healthcare costs is a complex issue with no simple solutions. An SMA spokesman said that with MOH heading the talks between the parties, there has been clarification and the start of understanding and collaboration, and acknowledged that more work lies ahead with honest and painful discussions on existing problem, potential solutions and trade-offs.

Resources:
The Straits Times

Mar

28 Mar 2021

Singapore Medical Association to rank IP insurers, set up complaints committee

The Business Times
 

The Business Times reported on SMA's Position Statement on Troubled Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), including the initiatives to rank IP insurers and setting up a Complaints Committee for both patients and doctors to flag issues related to IPs and insurance. SMA President Dr Tan Yia Swam highlighted that these initiatives aim to "collect more objective data" to get a better sense of the existing issues related to IPs and health insurance, give patients and doctors greater access to insurer information and to encourage transparency in insurers. SMA also pointed out that IP panels are highly exclusive with the fees around the lower limit of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) fee benchmarks. Dr Tan said that insurers have "not been that open about how eactly they select doctors", with "fee arrangements" on some panels with doctors to set lower fees in return for higher volumes of patients. SMA urged the Life Insurance Association to release date on IP insurers for public awareness of the proportion of private specialists on each panel. SMA has a duty to ensure doctors practice good medicine and put patients' interest first, providing good medical care and making sure charges are reasonable.


2 Mar 2021

Forum: Open insurers' doctor panels to all specialists as long as fees are reasonable

The Straits Times
 

The Business Times reported on SMA's Position Statement on Troubled Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), including the initiatives to rank IP insurers and setting up a Complaints Committee for both patients and doctors to flag issues related to IPs and insurance. SMA President Dr Tan Yia Swam highlighted that these initiatives aim to "collect more objective data" to get a better sense of the existing issues related to IPs and health insurance, give patients and doctors greater access to insurer information and to encourage transparency in insurers. SMA also pointed out that IP panels are highly exclusive with the fees around the lower limit of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) fee benchmarks. Dr Tan said that insurers have "not been that open about how eactly they select doctors", with "fee arrangements" on some panels with doctors to set lower fees in return for higher volumes of patients. SMA urged the Life Insurance Association to release date on IP insurers for public awareness of the proportion of private specialists on each panel. SMA has a duty to ensure doctors practice good medicine and put patients' interest first, providing good medical care and making sure charges are reasonable.


2020

Sep

13 Sep 2020

SMA is the glue that holds patients, doctors and authorities together

Lianhe Zaobao
 

Dr Tan Yia Swam, President of SMA, was interviewed by Lianhe Zaobao on the role of SMA and its future plans. Dr Tan said she wished to engaged younger doctors as well as the public during her term as President, and reiterated some of SMA's objectives including representing both doctors and patients, safeguarding the reputation and interests of the medical community and representing them to the government and related institutions. Dr Tan also brought up SMA's role in discussions with the Ministry of Health and other agencies on the COVID-19 pandemic, along with SMA's mask and hand sanitiser distribution exercises. The topic of insurance and how it is not a new issue SMA has had to deal with was also raised. Dr Tan emphasised that for patient complaints on doctors' charges, SMA does not have the authority to pass judgement, but rather acts as peacemakers and mediators between doctor and patient.

Resources:
Lianhe Zaobao

4 Sep 2020

All Integrated Shield Plans provide coverage of diagnostic endoscopy, clarifies insurance body following outcry

The Straits Times
 

Following a letter by Dr Ng Chee Kwan, First Vice-President of SMA to the Straits Times on 28 August, the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) clarified that all Integrated Shield Plan (IP) insurers will provide coverage for diagnostic endoscopies. Dr Ng highlighted that until early this year, all insurance companies would cover the costs of diagnostic endoscopies, and that this change affected quite a large number of patients. Doctors interviewed by The Straits Times agreed that this move disrupted the assessment of a patient, and could potentially delay an accurate diagnosis. LIA elaborated that IP insurers will review clauses on diagnostics and issue clarifications to make clear that medically necessary diagnostics, regardless of result, will be covered.


Aug

28 Aug 2020

Forum: Insurers set dangerous precedent by not covering diagnostic procedures

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum, Dr Ng Chee Kwan, First Vice-President of SMA highlighted that some insurers no longer allow claims for diagnostic endoscopies under shield plans, even when they are medically necessary. This disrupts a crucial part of a doctor's assessment of a patient, and may lead to a delay in diagnosis and worsening of the condition. Dr Ng noted that this can set a dangerous precedent as insurers may decide to withhold coverage for medically necessary procedures. As patients pay part of their shield plan premiums from Medisave, Dr Ng urged the Ministry of Health and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to provide some oversight on the matter to ensure adequate coverage from the plans.


Apr

19 Apr 2020

#SGArtforHCW Campaign on Channel8 News

CH 8 News Tonight 晚间新闻
 

In the news segment for 19 April 2020, CH 8 News Tonight featured the #SGArtforHCW collaboration between the National Gallery Singapore and SMA, noting that the collaboration has received almost 400 entries to date.

Resources:
CH8 News

3 Apr 2020

Key to stay united in fight against Covid19

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, SMA President Lee Yik Voon reflects on the past 11 weeks since the first Covid-19 case was diagnosed in Singapore. Dr Lee notes that everyone has a part to play in breaking the chain of transmission, and that healthcare workers in general appreciate support from the public. However, Dr Lee also highlights that a healthcare worker diagnosed with the virus was on the receiving end of unjust and unkind comments on social media. He emphasised that SMA views the common enemy as Covid-19, and everyone should contribute in a meaningful fashion.


Mar

12 Mar 2020

Doctors on insurance panels deserve to be fairly remunerated

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to the Straits Times Forum, SMA President Dr Lee Yik Voon agreed with the notion of collaboration between doctors and insurers as an important part of controlling healthcare costs; however Dr Lee notes that doctors deserve to be remunerated fairly as well. Dr Lee also mentioned that patients should not be limited by the number of doctors on insurer panels, and both patients and doctors will benefit from a fair remuneration for doctors.


Feb

28 Feb 2020

Post a note or drawing to support healthcare workers fighting coronavirus outbreak

The Straits Times
 

In collaboration with SMA, the National Gallery Singapore has started an initiative inviting artists and members of the public to show their support for healthcare workers involved in the Covid-19 outbreak. Artwork or words of encouragement can be uploaded to Facebook or Instagram, and selected entries will be displayed in hospitals’ public spaces.


16 Feb 2020

Coronavirus: GPs set aside their own fears to fight on the front line

The Straits Times
 

The Straits Times highlighted difficulties faced by GPS in the fight against Covid-19, especially the struggles and frustrations. Dr Tan Yia Swam, First Vice-President of SMA was quoted in the article, agreeing that GPs were “especially vulnerable” as many of them were small practices that had limited resources. Dr Tan added that SMA was working to support GPs thorough informal chat groups, as well as setting up food delivery services to major hospitals and a website where relevant information on the virus can be shared.


14 Feb 2020

Healthcare staff covers whole range of people

The Straits Times
 

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum, Dr Tan Yia Swam, First Vice-President of SMA called upon all Singaporeans to work together with and rally behind all healthcare workers in the wake of the Covid-19 situation. Dr Tan also reiterated the importance of supporting not only frontline staff, but the range of healthcare staff behind them as well.


1 Feb 2020

The Big Read: 17 years on, S’pore puts Sars lessons to the test in fight against Wuhan coronavirus

TODAYonline
 

TODAYonline published an article reflecting on how the Sars epidemic helped shape Singapore’s preparations and reaction to Covid-19. SMA’s 1st Vice-President Dr Tan Yia Swam noted that during the Sars crisis, the little information known about the virus meant that “precautions came too late, and too slowly”, as compared to the present where policies and procedures “have been developed and tested” before being put into action. SMA is also ensuring a steady supply of surgical and N95 masks for frontline healthcare workers, and will “step up efforts” should the need arise. Additionally, Dr Tan encouraged exercising caution when reading news on social media, as inaccurate news may “do more harm than good”.

Resources:
TODAYonline

2019

Dec

4 Dec 2019

Guidelines will ease docs' fears about unfair punishment

The Straits Times
 

A workgroup set up by the Ministry of Health has recommended that guidelines be set on what information doctors need to relay to patients about common procedures. In light of this, SMA 1st Vice President Dr Tan Yia Swam has been quoted in a Straits Times article. Dr Tan shared that because patients now can access information online and have greater expectations, doctors could resort to practising defensive medicine, possibly leading to a rise in overall healthcare costs.

Resources:
TODAYonline