New hospital in Jurong will not open in December as planned - delayed by six months

The exterior of the Ng Teng Fong hospital in Jurong that is still under construction. The 700-bed hospital in Jurong is pushing back its opening by six months because construction cannot be completed on time. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
The exterior of the Ng Teng Fong hospital in Jurong that is still under construction. The 700-bed hospital in Jurong is pushing back its opening by six months because construction cannot be completed on time. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The 700-bed hospital in Jurong is pushing back its opening by six months because construction cannot be completed on time.

The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), due to open at the end of this year, is now slated to open in the middle of next year.

Both chairman Lim Yong Wah and chief executive Foo Hee Jug expressed their regret and disappointment at the delay.

Singapore is facing a massive bed crunch, which the new hospital was expected to ease.

The main contractor of the new hospital, GS Engineering and Construction - which has to pay $100,000 for every day of delay - blamed shortage of skilled construction manpower here, and disruptions at the Thai factory making the facades, for the delay.

Construction was to have finished by next month, giving the hospital three months to get everything ready for an opening in December.

But early this year, the hospital management realised things were not going smoothly, and about two weeks ago, made the painful decision to delay the opening.

The hospital has already recruited 3,300 of the 4,000 people it will need to run both the 700-bed acute hospital and the 400-bed community hospital next door, slated to open in the middle of next year.

The team is running Alexandra Hospital, with about 200 medical staff on loan to other hospitals, said Mr Foo at a press conference on Saturday.

When it takes over the new hospital, staff for Singapore's next public hospital in Sengkang will take over the the running of Alexandra Hospital.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a statement that he was disappointed at the delay. The priority now, he said, is "to avoid further delays and ensure that overall capacity in the public healthcare system is not adversely affected and patient care will not be compromised".

He has asked Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Singapore's Director of Medical Services, to work with public hospitals "to ensure we have adequate capacity to meet the needs of our population".

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