SINGAPORE - Singapore's healthcare system can still handle the patient load as the nation's Covid-19 infection peaks, and it is important to tackle the manpower crunch to relieve the workload of nurses here.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said this on Monday (July 25) in his address at SingHealth's Nurses' Day celebration.
"How is the hospital situation? It's busy, but it's stable," he added.
Singapore reported 6,175 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday and there were 738 Covid-19 patients in hospital.
Acknowledging that Singapore has a very diverse group of nurses comprising both locals and foreigners, Mr Ong stressed the importance of continuing to tackle the problem of manpower shortage to relieve the burden of nurses.
Addressing the 400 nurses at the event, he said: "Nurses can still can go on leave, which is not suspended... What is more important is we make sure everyone does not burn out. We make sure you are able to sustain your very important work."
He added: "Please rest assured that every week I look at the attrition rates of all our hospital groups. We are stable and I hope we remain so throughout the year. But rest assured this is always our top priority."
SingHealth, which has more than 11,700 nurses, held its annual Nurses' Day celebration at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium in Singapore General Hospital on Monday, ahead of Nurses' Day, which falls on Aug 1.
Nursing Awards were presented to 150 exemplary nurses who demonstrated excellence in their careers, as well as emerging nurse leaders who made enormous contributions towards improving the quality and standard of nursing care at SingHealth institutions.
$5m fund for nurses to further their studies
At the event, SingHealth also announced a $5 million gift by the Wee Foundation to the health group's nurses.
The money was used to set up the Wee Foundation Nursing Academic Fund.
This fund supports scholarships for nurses to expand their knowledge and competencies.
The scholarships will allow them to take up courses that lead to a graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master's degree or doctorate degree.
The money will also allow nurses to pursue courses and training programmes in areas such as digitalisation, data analytics, systems and design thinking, and innovation.
These skills will better prepare them for the future workplace where technology will feature more prominently in everyday work.
This is the first time that the Wee Foundation is gifting money to nurses.
Ms Wee Wei Ling, director of the Wee Foundation, said: "This gift reflects Wee Foundation's deep gratitude to this very special group of professionals who inspire us with their dedication to their vocation and their immense contributions, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic."
One of the nurses who received an award on Monday was senior staff nurse Brendan Chew, 34, who works in the accident and emergency department (A&E) of Changi General Hospital.
Mr Chew said he chose to specialise in emergency medicine because he thrives on the fast-paced work at the A&E, which tends to be non-routine.
He hopes to utilise his skills in humanitarian aid and medical missions in future.
Nursing can be an immensely fulfilling journey, added Mr Chew, who has been a nurse for nine years.
Recounting an incident that happened when he was still a young nurse, he said: "There was this patient that came to the A&E clutching his chest. His condition was quite unstable then, but my colleagues and I managed to stabilise him expediently. Together with the doctor, we sent him for emergency treatment.
"A few days later, I was surprised to see this patient again - he had come to thank me for saving his life. I thought to myself then, yes, I think I can do this for a long time."