By Ilyda Chua, The Straits Times

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is expanding its accident and emergency (A&E) facilities amid a rising demand for them.

The hospital is getting a new emergency medicine building, expected to be completed in 2023, to replace the hospital's existing A&E facilities.

The new 12-storey building will have about four times the space of the existing emergency facilities, said SGH chief executive Kenneth Kwek.

A model of SGH's new emergency medicine building that is expected to be completed in 2023.  ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO 

It will also double the number of beds in the hospital's Acute Medical Unit.  The unit, which serves patients admitted from the Emergency Department with less differentiated medical needs, currently houses 67 beds.

The new building will be connected to the main hospital complex, as well as specialty centres such as the upcoming Outram Community Hospital.

This allows patients to benefit from a wider range of facilities and the pooled expertise of healthcare staff. It also allows patients to be transferred directly from the Emergency Department, reducing patient transfer time.

With the integration of health services and increased capacity, SGH will be better able to respond to national health crises, said Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min during the ground-breaking ceremony for the building on Tuesday morning (April 3).

"The new emergency medicine building will also include isolation rooms and an expanded hospital decontamination station, enhancing SGH's ability to handle disease, outbreaks and mass casualty incidents, where there may be patients exposed to hazardous materials," he said.

The construction of the new emergency medicine building comes amid an increase in demand for emergency care. This is especially so for those aged 65 and above - in 2017, they comprised 34 per cent of emergency patients at SGH, up from 25 per cent in 2007.

This is in light of an ageing population, with older patients who may suffer a much wider range of medical conditions. The new building is expected to ease capacity and service pressures faced by the existing Emergency Department, which was built to cater to a much younger population.

The existing A&E will likely be repurposed for clinical facilities, such as intensive care units, said SGH's Professor Kwek.