Tuesday 29 October 2013

New public hospital in northern Singapore after 2020

Health Ministry looking at demographic needs; Woodlands a possible location
By Siau Ming En, TODAY, 28 Oct 2013

Residents in the northern part of Singapore can look forward to a new hospital, possibly located in Woodlands, with construction set to begin after 2020.

The Health Ministry is looking at several sites for the new hospital and studying demographic needs and land use plans.

This was announced by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for the Sengkang General and Community Hospitals, which will be ready by 2018.

The Sengkang hospitals, touted to be among the largest regional hospitals, will have 1,400 beds. Currently, another regional hospital, Khoo Teck Puat in Yishun, has about 570 beds for both general and acute care, while the Changi General Hospital in the east has over 800 beds.

The Sengkang hospitals are part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Healthcare 2020 Masterplan to expand national healthcare capacity.

Emphasising the importance of flexibility in new hospitals, Mr Gan said: “What is important is also to ensure that our designing will give us some flexibility because hospitals have to be built for the future, they need to be able to cater to healthcare needs over a longer time frame. Therefore, we need to be able to have some facilities so that, even with demographic shifts, we will be able adapt to the (patients’) needs in time to come.”

As an example, he cited the 200 swing beds in the Sengkang hospitals, which can be added to either the 800-bed general hospital or the 400-bed community hospital.

Likewise, with the adjacent hospitals, patients who require long-term but less intensive care can be “transferred seamlessly” from the acute-care to the community hospital, he said.

The hospitals will provide more community spaces for residents in the neighbourhood, with an open plaza on the first storey that offers cafes, retail outlets and open spaces for community activities.

The hospitals will also be new additions to the healthcare facilities in the north-east region, including the Punggol polyclinic to be completed in 2017. As part of efforts to provide “integrated care” for residents, Sengkang Health will also be working with polyclinics, general practitioners, nursing homes and other healthcare providers to provide longer-term care for chronic diseases through follow-ups and direct referrals to the hospitals.

More than 5,000 people will be employed at the new hospitals and recruitment has already begun, said Professor Christopher Cheng, the pro-tem Chief Executive Officer of Sengkang Health. By 2015, the team will move to Alexandra Hospital, a site for training and testing of the new processes, he added.

With more young families in the north-east region, Prof Cheng added that Sengkang Health is in talks with the authorities to provide some acute care for children. While KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital will still focus on obstetrics, the Sengkang hospitals will look into providing gynaecology and antenatal care, he said.

The hospitals will be opened in phases, with the clinics first, followed by the acute care, then community hospitals — all within 2018.

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