to get a perspective, here's a previous report, dated November
3, 2003, published by $ingapore's nation-builder press. $ingapore's
health care system is privatised.
November 3, 2003
ran high on a balmy Sunday night as the normally stoic Senior
Minister Lee Kuan Yew nearly broke down while recounting
the ordeal his wife went through in London recently.
troubles that the couple faced - including joining a queue
in a free hospital - when Mrs Lee was hit by stroke two
Sundays ago, revealed how differently two systems worked.
cannot tell you how restless and unhappy we felt," he said
at a community event in Jalan Bukit Merah yesterday.
run a (healthcare) system where you have to co-pay ... but
you get the attention. There, no attention, just join the
queue," he said grimly.
first sign of trouble was that there was no private hospital
with CT scan facility at night in London, he told residents
and community leaders.
Mrs Lee had to go to the NHS hospital nearest to the Four
Seasons Hotel where they were staying - a free facility
called the Royal London Hospital - and join the queue.
waited 45 minutes for the ambulance for a 10-minute drive,"
said Mr Lee in his first public appearance since the couple
returned on Friday.
Singapore, within half-an-hour, you would be in SGH (Singapore
General Hospital), TTSH (Tan Tock Seng Hospital) ... and
within one-and-a-half to two hours flat, you'd know what
Mrs Lee reached The Royal London Hospital at 12.30am, it
happened to have three cardiac arrest patients.
Lee was told his wife's brain problem was "not as important"
as the cardiac arrest cases, he recounted solemnly. She
would have had to wait till 8am the next morning for her
CT brain scan if 10 Downing Street had not intervened to
get her early attention. High Commissioner Michael Teo had
sought help from 10 Downing Street at 2am on Sunday and
she received treatment at 3.30am on the night itself.
upon a time, it was a wonderful hospital. But after 40 plus
years ... the system cannot deliver. There's no connection
between those in the system and the patients," he said.
it's the way free healthcare systems work, he added, noting
that Singapore must not go down that path, even though there
are calls for free C class wards in public hospitals here.
how the system works ... They did not discriminate against
us," he noted of his London experience.
contrasted sharply with how quickly Singaporeans - including
national carrier Singapore Airlines - reacted to the situation.
though doctors initially advised that Mrs Lee stay put in
London for three weeks, Mr Lee decided fly her back once
her condition stabilised.
then there was the big worry that she would get a spasm
onboard, he recounted.
he needn't have worried. Within 48 hours, SIA had fitted
out SQ321 with medical support of oxygen tanks and other
fixtures for a drip.
other airline would have done this," Mr Lee said, looking
board were also two Intensive Care nurses from Changi General
Hospital, two doctors, as well as officials from SIA who
made sure all the equipment worked.
knows his job," said Mr Lee. "Within 12 to 13 hours, we'd
reached Changi Airport. It was a big relief," he said. "Twelve
to 13 hours. Your heart stops beating sometimes. We landed
at Changi Airport. Great relief. I had my granddaughter
(Li Xiuqi) with me. She is very fond of her grandmother.
She was so relieved."
Lee was whisked off in an ambulance to Singapore General
Hospital, where she is recovering.
think this experience has changed my granddaughter's view
of Singapore," Mr Lee said.
overseas ordeal has made him even more assured that Singapore
has what it takes to succeed, despite the downturn. "It's
how we respond in an emergency that determines how we fight
back. And I have enormous confidence that we can fight back."
Singapore system - with its efficiency and fighting spirit
- must be kept, he said.
slacken, you choose the easy way, and you'd be finished,"
back tears, he added: "I have immense confidence that in
an emergency, our people respond ... If we can do that,
we can succeed."