Tan Tock Seng Hospital
The hospital has 36 clinical and allied health departments, 15 specialist centres and is powered by more than 6,000 healthcare staff. TTSH sees over 2,000 patients at its specialist clinics and some 460 patients at its emergency department every day. It is part of the National Healthcare Group.
Possibly it is a case of being unlucky, or perhaps it is a common sight on a daily basis, we waited for nearly 2 hours after getting a queue number (even though my father had an appointment, he insisted that we had to wait for registration), I went to ask the nurse and she said we can actually go straight to the consultation room. Off we went, and was informed that the report wasn't finalised yet because the doctor is doing a procedure for another patient.
So we waited for another possible 1 to 1.5 hours before getting into the room and getting a finalised consultation by the doctor. That is the possible reason why the registration counter didn't call on our queue number. During that 1 - 1.5 hours we even visited some relatives that happened to stay at oasia hotel opposite ttsh. While we were waiting, we asked the assistant nurse several times and she was very kind to keep calling for the finalised report and was very apologetic.
The doctor was very nice and professional I must say. She is very knowledgeable and speak fluently in Chinese which is a great convenience for my father. Their nurses and staffs were very helpful and polite too. All in all, the only thing that bugs me was the long waiting time, though I think it can't be helped with the amount of patients going in and out.
Incident 1: Many years ago, my mother was referred by her specialist to TTSH. Her specialist had already made an appointment for her with the doctor in the hospital. When we reached the hospital, the receptionist at the department concerned insisted that there was no such appointment, and refused to even call the doctor to confirm. She repeatedly insisted that our appointment was not in the system. My mother, when she heard the news, collapsed of shock. The receptionist showed no concern at all and told us to visit the A&E department instead. I brought my mother to A&E, only to find that all the hospital staff busy with other patients, and no one had time for my mother. After more than an hour, I managed to locate a nurse who was kind enough to find out what happened to our appointment. The nurse finally informed us to return to the department who referred us to A&E. We returned, only to find the doctor whom my mother was supposed to see waiting for us. Somehow, the appointment was not registered in the hospital's system. The stupid receptionist did not even apologise for causing the ordeal my mother went through.
Incident 2: On one occasion, my mother was hospitalised in TTSH. My husband, I and my son went to visit her one day. The hospital restricts the number of visitors a patient receives to a maximum of 4. My mother happened to have 4 visitors with her at that time, and my family could not be admitted. I asked the guard there to call my mother using the hospital line, since my mother did not carry a mobile phone. He refused. We informed the guard that we are family members of the patient, and we needed to inform my mother of our visit and get 3 of the visitors to leave, since we could not wait at the lobby indefinitely. Again, the guard refused. The hospital took the trouble to restrict visitor access but did not even bother to implement a process to inform the patient of his visitors waiting at the lobby.
Incident 3: On another occasion, I warded my mother to TTSH, and my mother was allocated a ward near midnight. After ensuring that she was comfortable on her bed, I left the ward. I proceeded to leave by the back entrance to Novena Square. At that time, I was carrying my haversack with my laptop and other personal belongings. I had to walk down 2-3 escalators, which were not functioning. I didn't think anything of it. Maybe the hospital was trying to conserve energy. When I reached the back entrance, the glass door did not slide open as I expected it to. I pushed the glass door--it was locked. The entire area was devoid of people, and was eerily silent. I felt panic rising within me, and I banged on the glass door. Again, that morbid silence. I felt I was being locked inside a room. I was really frightened by this time, and ran up all the escalators, carrying my heavy haversack. I met a hospital staff at the second floor, and demanded to know why the back entrance was locked. The staff explained that at that time of the night, visitors can only leave by the main entrance. I was so furious!!! The hospital was so inconsiderate and CHEAP that they can't even be bothered to put up a sign to inform visitors that the back entrance was locked, and direct them to the main entrance instead.
From my experiences, it is obvious that this hospital can't be bothered with their visitors. Their people, systems and processes show their callousness towards the visitors clearly and loudly. The hospital should get this into their heads--that visitors are people with feelings and DON'T deserve the hell they put them through!
The handling of patients at A&E is atrocious. In one instance, my brother experienced difficulty breathing and we rushed him here. At the entrance, he was gasping for air, choking, and obviously struggling to breathe and yet they refused us entry unless he and one family member registered and had our temperature taken first. Another time, my wife was rushed here by her regular doctor after she experienced stroke-like symptoms. In the face of such a suspected serious illness, we had to wait for almost 4 hours before a doctor examined her.
Up in the wards, the horrors continue. It can take up to 12 hours stuck in the observation ward simply because there are no beds available in the normal wards. When my dad was warded for kidney stones, we were shocked to find his bed parked in the corridor in a makeshift corner because the ward was full. The nurses are stressed and overwhelmed and the doctors look like they are fresh out of medical school.
I am familiar with government healthcare as my brothers had medical problems when they were younger. It is sad to see that with all the progress Singapore has made, the healthcare sector seems to be falling backward instead of moving onwards.
After a tiring time navigating through the building, my mother and I had to register with a counter next to the lift lobby that links to wards in the storeys above. Without any queue, the registering usually takes less than five minutes, but during evening and lunch hours, the counter is chaotic and flooded with impatient working adults.