Massive health-care complex by 2030

SINGAPORE - Novena will have the country's biggest health-care complex by 2030, when all public and volunteer health-care facilities there, plus a medical school, are physically linked up to form Health City Novena.

More facilities and services will be added, with the built-up area more than doubled from 250,000 sq m to 600,000 sq m - about the size of 85 football fields.

The number of beds will go up by a quarter to more than 2,200 - Singapore General Hospital currently has about 1,500 - with the bulk of the increase for step- down care such as rehabilitation.

This transformation, believed to be one of the largest public sector health-care projects, will have a price tag in the billions.

Launched on Friday by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and led by National Healthcare Group (NHG), together with Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and the Health Ministry, the project will see space-efficient multi-storey blocks replace low-rise old buildings.

This is necessary as the health city will sit on 17ha of land, down from the 27ha it now occupies.

Land in Novena is expensive - private health-care group Parkway's 2008 bid of $1,600 for each sq ft of Mount Elizabeth Novena is evidence of that.

TTSH will be one of 10 buildings to be linked by aerial bridges and underpasses to create a more seamless transition for patients as they move from one facility to another for varying levels of care.

This is especially key for the elderly, who often need a longer recovery time and are less mobile. Transfers will be done indoors, and there will be no need to register and be means-tested again.

NHG chief executive Chee Yam Cheng said Health City Novena "aims to shape the future health care of Singapore", and it will explore more efficient models of care that rely on less manpower.

Mr Gan, speaking at the launch, described the city as "a key component" of Singapore's aim to develop medical excellence, and provide more accessible and better care.

New facilities will include a larger National Skin Centre, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, and an ambulatory centre for outpatient treatment and day surgery.

A new National Centre for Infectious Diseases will be built, replacing the Communicable Disease Centre, whose 10ha space will go back to the Government.

The land now occupied by the Dover Park Hospice is slated for a new medical school, but no details on this are available yet.

The hospice will relocate to a new Integrated Intermediate Care Hub.

The site will also have public gardens and parks.

Said Mr Gan: "Health City Novena has been conceptualised with the community in mind, with health trails, eco trails and heritage trails for community use."

salma@sph.com.sg

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