Nearly 4,000 new nurses will be added to Singapore’s workforce by the end of 2023: Ong Ye Kung’s
The Health Minister also provided an update on median wait times at hospital emergency departments, noting that they have decreased from approximately seven hours to approximately four hours.
Nearly 4,000 new nurses will be gradually recruited by the end of 2023 as part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) efforts to replace those “lost” to other countries and to expand the Singapore workforce, according to Minister for…
SINGAPORE: Nearly 4,000 new nurses will be brought on board gradually by the end of 2023 as part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) efforts to replace those “lost” to other countries and to expand the Singapore workforce, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Nov 21).
Mr Ong described this as a “significant” number, accounting for about 10% of the current nursing workforce. This figure is also 700 higher than the number of nurses hired last year.
On Monday, the minister spoke at the Tan Chin Tuan Nursing Award ceremony for enrolled nurses, which was held at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.
Earlier this year, Parliament heard that the attrition rate among public-sector local and foreign nurses increased last year compared to 2020.
Attrition among locals was 7.4 percent in 2021, up from 5.4 percent the previous year. Attrition among foreign nurses has more than doubled year on year, reaching 14.8% in 2021, according to Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health.
In an effort to attract and retain nursing talent, the Ministry of Health announced in July that more than 25,000 nurses would receive a special payment ranging from 1.7 to 2.1 months of their base salary.
Over 25,000 nurses will receive up to 2.1 months of base salary as a retention payment.
Between 2020 and 2021, the rate of attrition among local and foreign nurses in the public sector increased: MOH
On Monday, Mr Ong stated that the authorities were constantly looking for ways to reduce nurses’ workloads by addressing the issue of manpower shortage.
“During the pandemic, competition for nurses was fierce among different countries, and we lost many of our good and experienced foreign nurses,” he said.
According to Mr Ong, of the nearly 4,000 new nurses expected to be hired next year, a higher proportion of foreign nurses will be hired than local nurses, with a ratio of about 60:40, to compensate for the two-year slowdown in foreign nurse recruitment caused by COVID-19 border restrictions.
Even as Singapore increases foreign nurse recruitment, the “vast majority” of its nursing workforce will continue to be made up of locals from nursing school intakes and mid-career training programs, he added.
BED WAITING TIMES HAVE Almost been cut in half.
Mr Ong also provided an update on the “crowded situation” in hospitals, particularly in emergency departments, which he described as a “significant burden” on healthcare workers over the past year in his speech.
According to the health minister, the subsiding of a COVID-19 wave caused by the Omicron subvariant XBB has improved bed occupancy, emergency department attendance, and bed wait times.
According to him, hospitals have informed him that the number of non-urgent emergency patients waiting for beds is now half of what it was at the peak of the XBB wave.
“The median wait time at emergency departments has dropped from around seven hours about two weeks ago to now around four hours,” Mr Ong said, adding that patients in need of urgent care are always admitted right away.
The Ministry of Health is still working to reduce bed occupancies by expanding Transitional Care Facilities (TCF) and removing bed ringfencing for COVID-19 patients.
TCFs admit medically stable patients from public hospitals while they await transfers to intermediate and long-term care facilities or the completion of their discharge plans.
“The concept of treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease should rightfully be extended to hospitals, as it is applied in the community,” Mr Ong said of the practice of ringfencing beds for COVID-19 patients.
According to Mr Ong, such practices place a “significant work burden” on healthcare workers and do not make the best use of hospital bed resources.
“The transition will be done gradually; all of our hospitals are working on it,” he explained. “And I hope that, in time, their full impact will be felt in alleviating the overcrowding in our hospitals, particularly in our emergency departments.”
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