SINGAPORE - More than 25,000 nurses serving in the public healthcare clusters will receive a special payment package of between 1.7 and 2.1 months of their base salary, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday (July 31).
Nurses serving in the public healthcare clusters - National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth - will be eligible for the package as their retention payment.
The package will also be extended to another 2,600 nurses working in publicly funded community care organisations.
"As we celebrate Nurses' Day on Aug 1, it is timely to show our deep appreciation to our nurses who continue to work tirelessly to support the entire healthcare system," said MOH.
Called the Nurse Special Payment (NSP) package, it will be calculated based on the base salary as at Dec 1 this year.
This comprises the regular NSP of half a month, which will be paid out in December, and the enhanced NSP of between 1.2 and 1.6 months, which will be split equally into two tranches to be paid out in March and September 2023, to nurses who remain in continuous service with their employing organisation.
MOH, in a statement on Sunday, said it is committed to building up a local core of nursing workforce to meet future needs by improving the attractiveness of the nursing profession, and growing the local nursing training pipelines for both fresh graduates and mid-career entrants.
"To ensure that we continue to attract and retain staff and maintain market competitiveness, the base salaries of nurses in the public healthcare sector were enhanced by between 5 per cent and 14 per cent," it added.
The first phase of this increase was in July 2021 and the second phase was in July 2022.
Nurses were also given a Covid-19 Healthcare Award in 2021 - which was open to staff of publicly funded healthcare organisations involved in the fight against the pandemic, with each person receiving up to $4,000.
MOH said the base salaries for entry-level registered nurses were between $3,300 and $5,200 a month, depending on their qualifications and adding in allowances and bonuses as at 2020.
The Agency for Integrated Care will follow up with the publicly funded community care organisations on the funding details for their sector.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung last Friday (July 29) said nurses deserve a retention payment in order to keep them in the profession, especially amid the heavy workload in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
About 1,500 nurses quit their jobs in the first half of 2021 compared with 2,000 annually before the pandemic.
Foreign nurses, who now make up about a third of the nursing workforce, were hit especially hard by border closures caused by Covid-19.
In March, MOH said the attrition rate for foreign nurses in 2021 was 14.8 per cent, compared with 7.4 per cent for local nurses.
Ms K. Thanaletchimi, president of the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union, said the union welcomes the MOH announcement and is in support of the retention strategy.
However, while such rewards and recognition are appreciated, Singapore should also be bold enough to make a “radical change” to the base salaries of nurses, particularly of staff nurses and enrolled nurses, as there is still room for improvement despite a salary revision both last year and this year, she said.
She added that the nurses should also be given competitive salaries that are comparable to other developed countries.
The welfare and well-being of nurses can also be further reviewed, such as through more extensive flexible work arrangement and ensuring they have a strong ancillary support - which refers to ways of easing their patient management workload.
Mr Ong last Friday said more must be done to support nurses, including streamlining unnecessary administrative work, introducing technology and improving IT systems.