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20 Apr 2024

20th Apr 2024

Mr Cheng Wai Keung, Chairman, SingHealth

Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Group CEO, SingHealth

Professor Lee Chien Earn, Chairman, Eastern General Hospital Planning Committee

Associate Professor Gan Wee Hoe, CEO, SingHealth Community Hospitals

Professor Ivy Ng, Senior Advisor, SingHealth Board

Friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

1.     I am happy to join you today at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Eastern General Hospital Campus, or EGH Campus. We are witnessing a significant milestone in the development of healthcare infrastructure for residents living in the Eastern part of Singapore. When the EGH Campus is fully opened, it will have about 1,400 beds, with inpatient and outpatient services across a comprehensive range of clinical specialties and care settings.

Learning from Past Hospital Projects

 2.     When I checked through the years of completion of our public hospitals, it was quite obvious and evident that they were developed in phases throughout Singapore’s history. The first phase was the old hospitals built during colonial times – Tan Tock Seng Hospital (1844), Singapore General Hospital (1926), Alexandra Hospital (1930s). These older hospitals served our population, which was relatively young, well.

3.     There were no new hospitals for a few decades. Then, during the period of rapid economic growth and development, from the 1980s up to end of the 20th century, we saw more hospitals built. National University Hospital was completed in 1985 and Changi General Hospital in (1998). The Institute of Mental Health and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital moved into their newly developed premises, in 1993 and 1997 respectively.

4.     Again, there were no new public hospital developments for over a decade. Then in fairly quick succession, we saw the completion of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (2010), Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (2015) and Sengkang General Hospital (2018), to cater to the rising healthcare needs of a population that was starting to age. Woodlands Health Campus was supposed to have started operations a few years later after Sengkang General Hospital, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was officially opened and started operations late last year.

5.     As we know, medical technology and care models are constantly advancing, sometimes in leaps and bounds. Hospital development, on the other hand, has been happening in phases, with many years’ gap in between. Perhaps it is because of that, there had been a need to significantly update and refresh the design and plans for care models for each new hospital. Hence, each one is distinct, with its unique considerations and improvements in care model.

6.      For example, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was our first “hospital-in-a-garden concept”. Ng Teng Fong General Hospital was the first to incorporate a community hospital, from the outset. These changes reflect the spirit of innovation and continuous improvement amongst our clinicians and care teams.

7.      That said, with every hospital that we develop, we learn and develop, build up a repository of best practices and strive to apply lessons that we have learnt into the next hospital. As we built more hospitals, we should expect and aim to standardise more design features, so that the next hospital can be built with greater ease, cost and time efficiency.

8.     I should emphasise that standardisation is not a bad word. In building HDB flats, MRT stations, schools, hawker centres, nursing homes, we standardise designs for efficiency. While hospitals are very complex developments, standardisation can enhance design quality; it can promote inter-operability as doctors and healthcare professionals can move around, yet easily familiarise themselves across hospitals. The development team can optimise the locations of key facilities such as the Emergency Department, operating theatres and even placement of nurse stations for better workflow and patient care.

9.     I think EGH represents a good balance between innovation, continuous improvement, and also standardisation for efficiency and quality. The team has implemented various design management tools to ensure standardisation and quality control based on best practices over the years.

10.     For example, it uses the Computer Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE) to enable hospital users to do a virtual “walk through”, with simulated realism and depth, and then it can provide feedback which allows the team to make adjustments almost immediately. For example, in an operating theatre, there are various services and equipment tucked into the ceiling. We use CAVE to help resolve potential clashes of these services and equipment.

11.     As we continue to build new hospitals to meet the growing healthcare demand, standardisation and use of technology will improve our development productivity. We are aiming to bring down the time taken from conceptualisation to operation of a new general hospital. It now takes about seven to nine or ten years. We should bring it down to five to seven years in the near future.

Making EGH Special

12.     At the same time, EGH will also incorporate new, unique features, differentiating itself from other general hospitals. Let me cite three of them today.

13.     First, EGH will be a more pandemic-ready hospital. The planning and design process benefitted from the COVID-19 experience. The team has therefore designed EGH to have wards that can be quickly converted for isolation use, and to accommodate the need for bed surges during a pandemic. There is flexibility to quickly segregate working spaces, to support new work arrangements during a pandemic that can be accommodated without major modifications to the infrastructure.

14.     Second, EGH will be digitally enabled from the start. It will be well-equipped with IT infrastructure that is designed and incorporated from the outset. Its personnel will be trained and geared up to deliver telemedicine. For example, today, during a tele-consult, doctors can verbally ask if the patients are keeping up with their rehab exercises. Patients will always say yes but you cannot verify it. The EGH team is working on developing wearable sensors that could remotely track the frequency and accuracy of prescribed exercises. That will make tele-consult more effective.

15.     Third, because of its embrace of telemedicine and digital technology, EGH, and this is important, will be the first general hospital which is able to deliver its services before the completion of the physical hospital.

16.     As we are aware, Changi General Hospital (CGH) is facing a challenging capacity crunch and shouldering the rising healthcare needs of residents in the Eastern region. CGH is increasing their Emergency Department’s capacity and bed capacity over the next few years. MOH is also building a 200-bed Transitional Care Facility – our sixth around the island – at Upper Changi Road North, which is expected to complete in January 2025 and to support CGH.

17.     To further support CGH, EGH intends to start operations by running virtual wards around 2026. While they do not have a physical hospital, the healthcare workers will be nested in CGH. They can use tele-consult, remote monitoring and move out to the community and into patients’ homes to deliver care. In other words, Mobile Inpatient Care, or MIC@Home – in SingHealth it is called SingHealth@Home” – in the East will be a combined effort between CGH and EGH. It can significantly enhance and expand SingHealth@Home’s capacity in the East.


18.     In closing, let me end by thanking the EGH Campus team and SingHealth for their hard work in achieving this groundbreaking milestone of the Eastern General and Community Hospitals today.

19.     I would also like to extend my appreciation to the MOHH team. There are many people who helped. We should thank our consultants, CPG Consultants Pte Ltd, and piling contractor Zap Piling Pte Ltd. There are many others, like our architects, medical planners, mechanical and electrical engineers, civil and structural engineers, security and blast consultants, quantity surveyors, as well as the piling contractor and mock-up contractor, for their support of this project, and for working alongside the EGH Campus team and SingHealth to achieve this milestone. A lot of work is ahead of us.

20.     Today, we are also represented by grassroots leaders. Years ago, way before I came to MOH, we had already talked about moving the centre of gravity of healthcare out of hospitals and into the community. One of the "three beyonds” is beyond hospital to community. I think new hospitals will find that you will need to work with grassroots and community partners very closely because sick care happens in hospitals and healthcare happens in the community.

21.     To all the residents and members of the community joining us today, I hope you are looking forward, like me, to welcoming the EGH Campus into your neighbourhood. Thank you very much.

Category: Highlights Speeches