About 250 Singaporeans who studied medicine and dentistry abroad have been attracted back home since 2010, said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor in Parliament on Tuesday.
As part of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) wider push to ramp up the health-care workforce to prepare for an ageing population and growing demand for health services, it is bringing back overseas-trained Singaporeans by offering pre-employment grants, said Dr Khor.
The MOH projects that it will have to grow the national health-care professional workforce by 50 per cent, or 20,000 more people, from 2011 to 2020, she said.
"While we will do what we can to grow the local manpower pool, it is unlikely to be sufficient to meet Singapore's growing healthcare needs," she added.
In addition to bringing back overseas graduates, the MOH will continue to recruit qualified foreign professionals and help them assimilate into the local working environment.
And it aims to attract more young Singaporeans to join the health-care sector, Dr Khor said. With the new Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which admitted its first batch last year, the local medical intake will rise gradually to 500 a year.
MOH is also raising the profile of nursing and allied health professions with branding campaigns and scholarships. Salaries will also be adjusted from time to time to attract and retain talent in the public health-care and intermediate and long-term care sectors, she said.
MOH also supports mid-career professionals who wish to join the health-care sector and will help older health-care staff continue working for as long as they can. In 2012, 95 per cent of professionals in public health-care institutions who turned 62 were re-employed. MOH also helped 27 nurses return to practice last year, Dr Khor said.