Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song
MP for Aljunied GRC
Question No. 132
To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether there are plans for additional resources and hiring to be made available to the restructured hospitals to bolster capacity needed for potentially another wave of COVID-19 infections; (b) what are the current measures at hospitals to ensure that both frontline and laboratory staff do not get worn out; and (c) whether there will be a review to consider additional bonus payments for frontline officers in the public service.
(a) Additional resources and hiring for the restructured hospitals
1 MOH had implemented a multi-pronged approach to mobilise resources to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we utilised existing surge capacity, especially in NCID, to support the increase in COVID-19 cases, and converted designated spaces in our public sector hospitals for isolation and ICU use.
2 Second, during the Circuit Breaker period, non-essential services were deferred to reduce transmission risks and to allow hospitals to release bed capacity and manpower to cater to the surge in COVID-19 patients.
3 Third, through collaborating with the private sector hospitals, and setting up Community Care Facilities (CCFs) and Community Recovery Facilities (CRFs) in partnership with various private sector providers, we were able to quickly expand our capacity to appropriately care for patients at various stages of their illness according to their care needs.
4 Lastly, to further supplement our manpower, we hired and trained additional temporary staff, including locums and volunteers through the SG Healthcare Corps. Our healthcare institutions are also ramping up hiring as well as partnering with the aviation sector to take on temporary redeployments into suitable care support and operational roles.
5 While we have stood down some of these measures with the situation under control, we have put in place measures to allow us to re-activate these plans to bolster our ability to respond swiftly and effectively to a second wave of infections, when it occurs.
(b) Measures to ensure frontline and laboratory staff do not get worn out
6 Our public healthcare clusters have put in place various measures to reduce staff burnout, such as conducting regular reviews of the duty rosters to provide staff with sufficient rest breaks and rotating staff to different duties as needed. Our clusters also provide counselling services and helplines, supported by various psychological services and community providers, to support our staff and strengthen their mental and emotional resilience. We thank the community for sending welfare packs and gifts of appreciation to cheer on and encourage our staff. As the situation has since improved and remains stable for now, institutions have allowed staff to apply for local annual leave to take short breaks as needed.
(c) Special Bonus provisions
7 Our healthcare workers and frontline staff played an important role in our battle against COVID-19. At the Budget Round-Up Speech 2020, DPM Heng announced that frontline public officers who are directly battling the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would be awarded a special bonus. This is intended to recognise the significant risks that they have shouldered in combatting COVID-19 throughout this year.
8 We are deeply appreciative of the efforts and hard work of all public officers, healthcare workers, and various other partners who have contributed to our collective COVID-19 fight. The Government will seek to recognise and appreciate their contributions through a range of monetary and non-monetary mechanisms, including the special bonus, at an appropriate time.