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Steps taken to improve manpower crunch in healthcare

We thank Ms Eileen Isabel Ang for her letter, “Give hospitals more resources to help staff – and their patients” (Sept 16).

Ageing is indeed a major driving force for higher workload. But we wish to clarify that COVID-19 and current non-COVID-19 workloads are also related. Due to the pandemic, our hospitals reduced non-urgent and non-life-threatening treatments to create capacity for COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. Now, they have to manage the backlog of non-COVID-19 cases.

We agree that a well-rested healthcare worker will better take care of patients. However, the discussion in Parliament was in the context of ensuring healthcare worker stick to their rostered work hours and reduce coverage between colleagues. This will have implications on patient care.

The well-being of our healthcare workers is always important to us. As correctly pointed out in Parliament, the crunch in manpower is due to tougher international competition for healthcare workers, leading to higher attrition of our foreign nurses.

To improve the situation, we have implemented salary enhancements, redesigned jobs, optimised workflow and reduced administrative workload.

We are also working to implement the recommendations of the Staff Well-being Committee to improve staff well-being. To alleviate the load on healthcare officers, we will have to work together with families and caregivers as partners, to care for their loved ones and alleviate the load on healthcare workers.

Tan Wei Ming

Group Director (Human Capital)

Ministry of Health

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