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Bringing GPFirst — a CGH Initiative — to the Nation

An award-winning framework for advancing care delivery in the community.

Changi General Hospital (CGH)’s GPFirst team clinched the National Clinical Excellence Team Award at the prestigious National Medical Excellence Awards (NMEA) 2021 for its outstanding contributions and achievements in establishing the GPFirst programme, a public-private healthcare partnership that encourages patients to seek treatment with General Practitioners (GPs) for appropriate conditions instead of going to the hospital’s Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

Conferred by the Ministry of Health, the award recognises the efforts of outstanding clinicians and other healthcare professionals for their achievements in advancing healthcare, improving the standards of patient safety and driving research and education, which ultimately improves people’s lives.

Right-Siting Care Delivery

The GPFirst programme was the brainchild of a group of CGH clinicians who observed that patients were visiting the A&E for conditions that can be managed by GPs. The GPFirst team developed the patient-centric programme in 2014 to nudge patients with mild to moderate conditions to visit a GP instead.

In right-siting care, the GPFirst team adopted a multi-pronged approach by partnering GPs and engaging the community to shape health-seeking behaviour. This not only reduces the number of non-emergency cases at the A&E, but also allows patients with mild to moderate conditions to seek treatment at GPs in their vicinity for greater convenience and shorter waiting times.

Since its inception, more than 35,000 patients in the East have benefitted from the programme. This was possible because of the strong collaboration with the network of GP clinics in the eastern region of Singapore that was established over the years. Close to 180 GP clinics have participated in the GPFirst programme, forming a lively ecosystem to provide accessible, holistic and integrated care with better health outcomes for patients.

On the A&E front, there was also a reduction in walk-in attendances by close to 40 per cent, and a 14 per cent drop in the proportion of A&E attendances with mild and moderate conditions from 2014 to 2019. Close to 90 per cent of GPFirst participants rated their overall experience as good or excellent.

“The A&E is meant for serious injuries and emergencies that require immediate attention. Our GPs are well-equipped to care for patients with mild to moderate conditions and can make appropriate assessment if one requires A&E attention,” says Clinical Associate Professor Steven Lim, the programme’s director and Senior Consultant, A&E, CGH. “The national award also recognises the efforts of our main partners, the GPs, who have walked alongside us in this care transformation journey. The GPFirst team will continue to play a part in transforming our healthcare landscape, facilitating care shifts beyond the hospital to the community, and expanding the GPFirst programme to more healthcare institutions,” says Clinical Associate Professor How Choon How, Senior Consultant, Care and Health Integration, CGH.

The GPFirst Programme has since been expanded nationwide to benefit more patients. To date, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, National University Hospital, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital and Woodlands Health Campus have implemented the programme, and more are expected to roll it out.

To learn more about these conditions, visit or the GPFirst Facebook page.

Where To Turn To

Go to a GP for mild to moderate symptoms such as abdominal pain or indigestion, cold/flu, cuts/bruises, fever, headaches, hives, insect bites/stings, mild burns, nausea/vomiting, nosebleeds, sore eyes, strains and sprains.

Go to the hospital emergency departments only for emergencies that could result in serious complications or death, such as strokes, heart attacks and serious injuries.

















Bringing GPFirst — a CGH Initiative — to the Nation