Khamis, 9 Januari 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Hospitals facing bed shortage

Posted: 08 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

A severe bed crunch at Singapore's public hospitals has forced several of them into taking some extraordinary measures.

Changi General Hospital (CGH), which has 800 beds, started housing patients waiting for beds in a large air-conditioned tent this week.

The 1,200-bed Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), meanwhile, has been forced to set up 49 beds along the corridors of its wards to cope with the demand.

Together with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), they have also resorted to sending patients to Alex­andra Hospital, one of the few public hospitals here with spare beds.

Having taken in more than 900 patients from other hospitals bet­ween last September and December, it continues to admit around 11 such patients each day.

Dr Lee Chien Earn, CGH's chief executive officer, said: "Our bed occupancy rate has crossed 100% for certain periods over the past month and some patients have waited more than 24 hours for an inpatient bed."

This is despite CGH already renting a ward from Parkway East Hos­pital and the next-door St Andrew's Community Hospital.

Liak Teng Lit, head of Alexandra Health which runs KTPH, said: "Every day, we have to make decisions regarding our 500 patients. Those who are not so sick are discharged to make way for the 50 to 60 patients waiting for a bed."

He described the current bed crunch as "abnormal", since public hospitals usually experience a dip in patients during this period. But numbers went up instead.

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, a member of the Government Parliamentary Commit­tee for Health, said the crunch might be due to the holiday season rather than a spike in illnesses.

Liak said this was possible. He exp­lained how 20 KTPH patients at any one time refuse to be discharged.

Some say their families are on holiday, and there is no one at home.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday night that he was aware of the problem – hence, the push to add 1,900 more acute hospital beds and 2,600 community hospital beds by 2020.

He added: "The hospitals have also implemented various measures to alleviate the bed crunch.

"CGH has set up a nine-bed Short Stay Unit and expanded its observation ward from 12 to 20 beds at the Emergency Department and also set up an Admission Transit Area for patients who are waiting for a bed in the ward." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Seven in 10 seek new jobs but hiring has slowed

Posted: 08 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Seven in 10 workers in Singapore are looking for a new job but companies are cutting back on their hiring, according to two surveys.

Bad bosses and a desire for higher pay are two main factors pushing workers to look for new jobs, said a report by human resources consultancy Hudson.

The report, released on Tuesday, was based on interviews with 1,292 workers and 477 employers at the end of last year.

It said that of the more than 900 workers who may quit, almost 90% are expected to resign within a year.

And of the job seekers, less than one-third are actively going for job interviews while the others are passively waiting for a better job to come along.

As workers go job-hunting, emplo­yers are not rolling out the red carpet.

Only two in five of the firms polled said they were hiring in the next three months, a 4.3% decline from three months ago.

This is the second quarter in a row that shows hiring sentiments have weakened, said Hudson.

Official preliminary figures rele­ased last week show the economy is slowing.

It shrank 2.7% in the final quarter of last year compared with the preceding quarter, although it grew 4.4% when compared with the same period a year ago.

The brightest spot for job seekers is the banking and financial services sector.

It is the only one of the five key sectors Hudson surveyed that shows a rise in the number of firms hiring.

Half of the banks and financial institutions said they were raising their headcount, an increase of 7.4% from three months ago.

"This reflects an increase in confidence in the Singapore banking sector, with a busy lending and investment environment," said Andrew Tomich, executive general manager of Hudson Singapore.

Meanwhile, a separate survey on hiring outlook for the first six months of this year also shows fewer companies are recruiting.

The survey, also released yesterday, is by home-grown HR consultancy firm Achieve Group.

It found that companies in seven of the nine sectors polled plan to retrench staff.

Even in the financial services sector, around 4% of companies are planning to reduce their headcount, said Achieve Group.

Although the financial services sector is doing well, banks will strive to keep headcount flat, said George McFerran, Asia-Pacific managing director of eFinancialCareers.

If they hire, it will be in selective areas such as private banking, technology or risk compliance, he added. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Travellers 'can't do without Internet'

Posted: 08 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

SHE travels about 10 times a year for work and leisure to countries like the United States and Japan.

On those trips, accountant Winnie Tan, 45, carries a smartphone and refuses to "disconnect" from the online world.

"I want access to my e-mail even when I'm on holiday," she said.

"It's not that my company makes me do it, but I don't like (having to clear) a backlog when I'm back from my holidays."

Bank officer A. Tan, 34, said she tried to check her work e-mail every day via her phone while overseas, as there could be urgent messages. She also visits news websites regularly.

"It's so that I know what's happe­ning back home when I'm away. It's important to keep updated," she said.

A recent Visa survey showed Sing­apore's affluent travellers want access to Internet banking while on holiday and require constant contact with others.

The 2013 Global Travel Intentions Study surveyed 506 Singapore travellers aged 18 and above in November and December 2012.

It found that affluent travellers – those with monthly household incomes of S$11,000 (RM28,400) or higher – do not "switch off" when they are on holiday.

Affluent Singapore travellers also go abroad more frequently, with an average of seven trips made annually in 2011 and 2012. And they require constant contact with others. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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