Old Changi Hospital, situated on the small Barrack Hill along Netheravon Road, was a fascinating place with a long history, going all the way back to the mid-thirties as a small British military hospital called Royal Air Force Hospital.
The hospital was captured by the Japanese forces during World War II, and was used as a healthcare facility for the prisoners-of-war detained at the Changi military base nearby.
After the war, the British regained possession of the hospital. It was handed over to the Commonwealth forces in 1971 when the British started withdrawing their troops from an independent Singapore. The hospital was renamed as Anzuk Hospital, where the name Anzuk referred to the Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom armed forces.
As the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) started to take shape in the early seventies, the Commonwealth forces withdrew gradually. In 1975, Singapore government took over the hospital and converted it to SAF Hospital, which provided medical, surgical and dental healthcare to the servicemen.
Just one year later, SAF Hospital was passed to the Ministry of Health (MOH), which opened it to the public. Combining with nearby Changi Chalet Hospital, the new healthcare center of the eastern side of Singapore, equipped with x-ray devices and emergency services, was now capable of taking care of 150 hospitalised patients.
As the hospital was situated on a hill, the healthcare personnel as well as the patients found it difficult to access various blocks (Block 24, 37 and 161) using the steep flights of stairs. Thus MOH decided to source for another better location. In 1997, the staffs of Changi Hospital were shifted to their new workplace in Simei. Combining with Toa Payoh Hospital, the new site was called Changi General Hospital.
For many years, Old Changi Hospital remained vacant and unattended. Shortly after its abandonment, it became one of the favourite spots in Singapore for ghost sighting. Haunted stories about the hospital spread like wild fire, but the sources were never confirmed.
In 2006, Singapore Land Authority (SLA) invited private investments to develop the hospital. Real estate company Bestway Properties won the contract to turn the historical site into a lifestyle haven of resorts, spas and restaurants. However, the plans never materialised, probably due to the 2008 financial crisis, and the site was returned to SLA in 2010. The forgotten hospital was vacated once more.
Published: 17 May 2011