2nd Feb 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Tan Wu Meng
MP for Jurong GRC
Question No. 542
To ask the Minister for Health (a) how many and what proportion of workers at healthcare institutions are currently outsourced; (b) what proportion of outsourced workers perform roles which in the pre-outsourcing era would have been in frontline or patient care areas or involving handling patient samples; and (c) whether human resource practices for outsourced workers are harmonised with direct hires, including recognition for COVID-19 related work and frontline exposure risk.
Sir, as a doctor and a unionist, I want to thank all our frontline healthcare workers for their sacrifices and hard work during this COVID crisis. About 10,000 staff (or about 13%) working in public healthcare institutions are hired by third-party contractors. Some examples of outsourced workers include housekeeping staff, security guards, and staff doing landscaping, pest control and kitchen/ food services. Of these outsourced staff, almost 70% of them are in roles which require them to be at the frontline or patient care areas, but less than 5% are involved in handling patient samples.
In general, the third-party contractors have been engaged by the public healthcare institutions under a contract for service arrangement for specific projects or services. They are engaged for a fee and take on the responsibility of hiring the staff required to meet the needs of these projects or services. Hence, the compensation and benefits of staff that they hire is determined and paid by these contract companies.
Nevertheless, to ensure that the welfare of outsourced staff is taken care of during the COVID-19 outbreak, the public healthcare institutions have extended various initiatives to them. Outsourced staff who work in high-risk areas are trained in infection control measures and provided with full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when discharging their duties. They are also included in the COVID-19 vaccination exercise for healthcare workers.
The public healthcare institutions appreciate the contribution of these outsourced workers in our battle against COVID-19 and many of these institutions have extended goodwill donations and care packs to their outsourced staff. The Ministry certainly encourages the public healthcare institutions to continue looking into ways to show appreciation of the hard work of our outsourced staff in many different ways.