SINGAPORE - The Health Ministry has issued a circular asking healthcare clusters to roster their staff for leave towards the end of the year, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Wednesday (Oct 20).
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Mr Ong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 in Singapore, said there is a need to ease the strain on healthcare workers here.
He said: "They've really been under pressure for the last 20-plus months. I think most, if not all, of them have not even taken leave. Our foreign nurses and healthcare workers have not had a chance to see their family.
"So, even though workload is so high and every single one of our healthcare workers is needed at their station, we do have to take care of their well-being as well."
Mr Ong added that before the healthcare workers can go on leave, however, there is a need to strengthen the manpower in the system. This will be done in several ways.
First, as Singapore cuts down on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, many swabbers will become available.
"They are infection-control trained, which is very useful, so they can be redeployed as healthcare assistants or patient care assistants," said Mr Ong.
Second, the Government has called for volunteers to join the SG Healthcare Corps.
So far, about 800 out of the 2,000 people who stepped up have been identified as suitable for the task and are ready for deployment, said Mr Ong.
Third, the private sector will help take in both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients to ease the burden on the public healthcare system.
Fourth, non-urgent and non-life-threatening care treatments have been reduced at public healthcare institutions, in order to alleviate the pressure on hospital capacity and manpower.
"So through various means, we hope that towards the end of the year, healthcare workers can be given a reprieve," said Mr Ong.