On 25 May 1961, fire ravaged the squatter settlement of Bukit Ho Swee. Four people were killed and some 16,000 dwellers were left homeless as the fire razed 100 acres of attap houses, factories, shops, timber yards and even a school. SGH, along with other organisations, came forward to help. Setting up an outdoor clinic at Kim Seng West School, treating more than 200 cases in the first six hours.
Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak at the casualty unit at Kim Seng School Fire Relief Centre on his tour of the Bukit Ho Swee fire devastated areasSource: NAS/YUSOF ISHAK
In October 1978, Singapore experienced its first post-war mass casualty disaster when an explosion on the Greek tanker S T Spyros left 76 people dead and injured another 69. The lessons learnt from scrambling to deal with horrific burns sustained by the victims led to the setting up of the Burns Unit in SGH.
Professor Lee Seng TeikEmeritus Consultant, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital
Established in 1962, the SGH Burn Centre has become the major burns referral centre for Southeast Asia, providing specialised and multidisciplinary care , from point of injury to post-hospital rehabilitation. As a level I trauma centre, routinely receives severely burned patients throughout Southeast Asia requiring specialised burn care.
Terrorist attacks were almost nonexistent in Southeast Asia until the 2002 bombing at Kuta Beach on the island of Bali. Indonesia suffered more attacks targeting the Jakarta Marriott hotel in 2003 and the Australian embassy in 2004 and further Bali bombings in 2005.
In three of these attacks, the SGH Burns Centre served as a receiving facility for some of the most severely burned victims in the immediate aftermath of the blasts.
Unveiling of the upgraded Burns centre in 2019. The new facility is refurbished with custom-built operating theatres and high-dependency rooms to cater to more patients
The Japanese occupation forces took over the General Hospital for use by their troops in Southeast Asia.
However, the disruption from the war brought about a paradigm shift in the local medical community. With the expatriate doctors interned by the Japanese during the war, local doctors and staff assumed full responsibility in running the hospitals that continued to serve the locals. They proved themselves capable and became aware of the imperative need to unify the medical service with equal treatment of local and colonial doctors posted from Britain and India.
Just five years after gaining independence, Singapore was actively exploring avenues of economic development to ensure its sustainability. Initiatives were underway to make Singapore a liveable city, and healthcare systems and services had to keep pace with modern advances across the globe.
As the country was gripped by events like Konfrontasi, the Maria Hertogh riots, the Pulau Senang prison riot and the Hock Lee Bus protests, SGH continued to treat their respective victims.
SGH has undergone numerous transformations since its establishment nearly 200 years ago to keep up with the needs of Singaporeans. The iconic Bowyer Block, a National Monument in recognition of its national significance and rich history, is a standing reminder of how far we have come in advancing patient care.