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National Medical Excellence Awards recognise outstanding healthcare professionals

Recipients include a pioneer in the fields of infertility and assisted reproduction, and a team that developed a multi-disciplinary programme to reduce the number of S-CAP patients from dying in the hospital.

SINGAPORE: Seven awards were given to outstanding recipients in six award categories at this year's National Medical Excellence Awards on Thursday evening (Aug 28). The awards, given out by the Health Ministry, recognise contributions from health professionals for innovations in healthcare, patient safety and biomedical research, as well as training and education of clinicians.


Professor Wong Peng Cheang, a pioneer in the fields of infertility and assisted reproduction, clinched the National Outstanding Clinician Award. In 1983, he was part of a team that helped to deliver Singapore's first in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) baby.

Having spent 30 years in this field, he said the biggest satisfaction of his job is helping couples who have difficulty conceiving. Prof Wong added that this is especially relevant in Singapore with its low birth rates, but he cautioned that the challenges of IVF are becoming more complex with more couples getting married later.

He said: "It is easy to imagine, they get married late, they try to conceive later and then if they cannot get pregnant, then they may be thinking of coming for fertility treatment. By then, another few years have passed. So what we have noticed now is that ... the women attending our clinics are getting older. The big problem is that fertility declines with age and the success of IVF also declines with age."


The National Clinical Excellence Team Award went to the NUHS team that developed a multi-disciplinary programme to reduce the number of Severe Community-Acquired Pneumonia (S-CAP) patients from dying in the hospital.

Rolled out in 2008, the programme reduced hospital mortality for S-CAP patients from 23.8 per cent to 5.7 per cent. The team developed and implemented a multifaceted workflow that optimised the management of such patients at the emergency department.

Associate Professor Malcolm Mahadevan, head and senior consultant of the Emergency Medicine Department at NUHS, said: "We started off with the blood test - it helped us to recognise more patients earlier on. And then came the resuscitation bundles - these were things we did for the patient really early. We tried to restore their blood pressure to normal, we gave them oxygen and we started antibiotics really early."

The efforts of the multi-disciplinary team saw a reduction in the Intensive care Unit (ICU) admission rates and the length of hospital stay for patients. For example, doctors said that for some patients, they saw their stay in the ICU shortened by about two days, which amounts to about a couple of thousand dollars in savings.