Mr Cheng Wai Keung, Chairman, SingHealth
Prof Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth
1. I served in the Ministry of Education before and we have a Teachers’ Day that is widely celebrated. Here, we have Nurses’ Day. There are good reasons why these two professions are especially celebrated.
2. I think all of us have the experience, at one point or another, of having a loved one in hospital, and we have felt the love, passion, care, dedication and professionalism of nurses. Whether the healthcare outcome is good or bad, the nurse is always there.
3. Just think about how far we have come in the past two and a half years. When I walk along the streets, it is quite common for members of the public to come forward and say, “You guys do a good job for COVID-19.”. And they meant you guys. They do not mean us.
4. We lived through SARS, and now we are living through COVID. This morning, I got two cards from students writing to us to say MOH did a great job in tackling COVID-19. When the crisis has settled down – I think it largely has now – people will take their hats off to all healthcare workers, especially nurses, because you are there as a pillar of strength.
5. Amongst the young, I already see that many people are inspired to be nurses. I just learnt this morning that the son of a doctor friend wants to be a nurse, not a doctor like his father. I think we are not short of young people wanting to enter this profession, but we are always short of Singaporeans and babies. Each cohort is getting smaller, and healthcare needs are rising. So I never believe that Singaporeans do not want to be nurses. Many of them aspire to but we just do not have enough Singaporeans.
6. We have therefore a very diverse group of nurses, amongst us, locals and foreigners working side by side. We must continue to tackle this problem of manpower shortage, to relieve the kind of burden and workload that is on you. Please be rest assured that whether it is MOH or your senior management, the manpower situation is always top of mind, and your welfare is always top of mind. I was just asking Professor Ivy Ng how the hospital situation is, with the infection wave now coming to a peak, and starting to turn. She said it is busy but stable. Nurses can still can go leave, which is not suspended. In fact Ivy said that what is more important is we make sure everyone does not burnout. We make sure you are able to sustain your very important work. 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.
7. I end with what Ivy talked about, what nurses stand for, and I have an alternate formulation. It simply stands for, “Nurses, you are so extraordinary”. So, since I am at SingHealth, let me offer you also, my bow of appreciation.
8. Happy Nurses’ Day and it has been a privilege to work with everyone! Thank you.