SEMS (Singapore)

SEMS Heritage & Mission

The Society for Emergency Medicine in Singapore (SEMS) was formed in 1993.  After organizing 2 regional meetings, the society has also worked with her Asian neighbours in inaugurating the Asian Society of Emergency Medicine in 1998.

SEMS is dedicated to the improvement of care of the acutely ill and injured patient by improving research and education. To achieve this mission, SEMS influences health policy through forums, publications, inter-organizational collaboration, policy development, and consultation services for physicians, teachers, researchers, and students.

SEMS represents excellence and leadership in academic emergency medicine and its values include idealism and quality in all endeavors, nurturing and camaraderie and diversity among members, as well as creative and symbiotic interactions with other organizations.

History of Emergency Medicine in Singapore

Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world, and one of the most densely-populated as well, with a population of about 6 million people residing within a land area of 719 square kilometres. 7 acute public hospitals provide 24-hour accident and emergency services.  Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National University Hospital (NUH) are tertiary referral centres.  Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), Changi General Hospital (CGH), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) are regional general hospitals, while Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKWCH) is the tertiary centre for obstetrics, gynecology and pediatric patients.

In 1948, a “Casualty and Outpatient Service” was introduced at the Singapore General Hospital. Doctors assigned from the various inpatient departments on daily rotation managed it.  In 1964, the service was reorganized and renamed the “Emergency Unit” to better reflect its mission.  It was helmed under the Orthopaedic Surgery.  In 1969, the Emergency Unit had its own head and functioned independently from the Orthopaedic Surgery. It was only in 1974, that it was renamed the “Accident & Emergency Department” and became a clinical department of SGH after the recommendation of the Platt Report in the United Kingdom. 5 years later, in 1977, the first modern A&E department was built at SGH, with 16 examination and treatment rooms, a 4-bed resuscitation area with ceiling-mounted radiography tube, a twin radiography suite, a plaster (cast) room, 3 minor operating suites and a 20-bed observation ward.  In 1997, with the establishment of a new Children’s Hospital in KKWCH, the first paediatric emergency department was created.

Emergency Medicine in Singapore has made great strides since its humble beginnings in the 1940s. It is now a recognized medical specialty with an increasing pool of trained physicians and established structured training programs.