Parliament: 9,000 people needed in public and community care sectors, MOH to put in $24m to attract them

MOH will be investing $24 million to get 9,000 more people to join the healthcare sector to meet staffing needs over the next three years. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Around 9,000 more people will be needed in the public and community care sectors over the next three years, and the Health Ministry (MOH) will be investing $24 million to get them on board.

This means roughly 2,700 nurses, 4,500 support staff, and 1,800 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

The ministry will also be looking at how best to get more of its 34,000-odd practising nurses out into the community where they are most needed - including homes, nursing homes, community hospitals and senior care centres, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said in Parliament on Thursday (March 9) during the debate on the ministry's Budget.

Many of the ministry's new programmes - such as a new overseas nursing graduate scholarship and training programmes - are targeted at getting people to switch over to healthcare from different careers.

For example, it will increase its funding for professional conversion programmes so that employers need to pay only 10 per cent of the training cost for mid-career professionals interested to join nursing. It will also provide up to $16,000 to employers as on-the-job training support for each person.

In addition, it is starting a new two-year scholarship for non-nursing graduates to pursue graduate entry masters nursing programmes abroad. Scholarship recipients will return to serve as registered nurses in public healthcare institutions.

The ministry is also looking to attract support staff such as therapy assistants or basic care assistants, and will provide employers $10,000 for on-the-job training of each person hired.

In tandem with MOH's shift to moving care outside of hospitals and into the community, it is planning to increase the number of community care nurses. For example, it will introduce a new community nursing scholarship to attract O-and A-level students into nursing.

"If we want to go beyond healthcare to health, we need nurses to deliver preventive health in the community," said Dr Khor. "If we want to go beyond hospitals to the community and home, we need nurses to support patients with good day and home-based care."

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