SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Sunday said the next public hospital to be built after 2020 will be in northern Singapore.
He added the exact location has yet to be decided and demographic needs will be factored into the decision.
Mr Gan said the Health Ministry is studying sites in several areas, and one of them is Woodlands.
Mr Gan was speaking on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for Sengkang General and Community Hospitals, which are slated to be ready by 2018.
The hospitals are part of the Health Ministry's Healthcare Master Plan, which aims to add 4,100 hospital beds in Singapore by 2020.
In addition to the existing acute hospitals, the government plans to build four new acute hospitals between 2020 and 2030.
The Health Ministry is studying the exact location with land agencies, taking into account land use plans, with Woodlands being a possible site.
Mr Gan said: "It will also take into account the demographic pattern, and beyond 2020 is still some time to go, so we will decide on the specific location nearer to the time so as to take into account changes in demographics over the next few years.
"We also need to look at the pattern of diseases and what would be more relevant, more important and therefore, it is important for us to remain flexible."
Mr Gan added that it is also important for hospitals to be flexible to meet future health care needs. The new integrated 1,400-bed hospital hopes to achieve this with its "swing beds."
Professor Christopher Cheng, Pro-tem CEO of Sengkang Health, said: "The hospital has planned to have 800 acute hospital beds just like any general hospital, and 400 community hospital beds for rehabilitation and transitional care.
"But we also have 200 additional beds that are planned and designed that can be used either way. So if the hospital requires more acute beds, we can have 1,000 -- that means 800 plus 200. Or if the hospital requires more community hospital step-down beds, then we can have 400 plus 200."
If need be, Prof Cheng said the hospital can temporarily accommodate up to 1,600 beds in times of crises, such as an outbreak.
There will also be an open hub in the hospital called the Community Heart, which will host wellness-related activities such as health screenings and exhibitions.
With Sengkang being a fairly new town, its demographics comprise young families and their children. The new hospital is currently considering working with partners such as GPs and polyclinics to provide community-based pediatrics.
Sengkang General and Community Hospitals will be opened in phases, starting with the acute hospital, and followed by the community hospital.
The hospitals will be one of Singapore's largest regional hospitals, catering to residents in Sengkang, Punggol, Hougang and Pasir Ris. - CNA/fa/ac
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