Healthcare workers are a crucial line of defence against the Covid-19 pandemic, and they've been performing crucial services for many years.
Member of Parliament Darryl David commended the announcement in the Emerging Stronger Together Budget that healthcare workers will receive a salary boost.
However, he had more suggestions for how to increase the attractiveness of the nursing profession as a whole, so that more locals are encouraged to take up this vital work.
Money for nurses
In his Budget Speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat acknowledged the contributions of our healthcare workers.
The salaries of nurses and other healthcare staff, such as support care staff, will be enhanced, with more details to follow from the Ministry of Health (MOH).
This will apply to staff working in public healthcare institutions, as well as publicly-funded community hospitals and long-term care service providers.
While glad that their salaries will be enhanced, David suggested that the government could also help to enhance career prospects too.
Career progression ladder for enrolled nurses too
He noted that MOH classifies nurses into "registered" and "enrolled".
Registered nurses must have tertiary qualifications, and can specialise in different practice areas.
"They have a clear career pathway that enables them to eventually become a nurse manager," David said.
"This pathway of progression is generally different for enrolled nurses who typically are those who possess a NITEC in Nursing from the ITE," he added.
He suggested that the government could implement a progression ladder for such nurses which takes into account their experience on the job.
He also suggested providing them with skills upgrading opportunities through both formal and on-the-job training, and also scholarships for those who aspire to higher qualifications.
Besides the career progression ladder, David also urged the government to improve working conditions and work environment for nurses. He pointed out that Singapore has traditionally relied on foreign nurses to supplement local nurses. He noted that this was not for a lack of trying.
David said he believed wages are just one reason for the reluctance of more Singaporeans to become nurses.
"Perhaps they are deterred by long working hours, the stress from having to deal and manage different patients and their family members, as well as potential disruptions to family life arising from irregular work shifts."
He suggested that the government could consider implementing mandatory leave and paid holidays for nurses as additional benefits, so they could take a break and recharge when needed.
David added that the government should look at the suggestions from the Future Nursing Career Review Committee as a guide to making the profession more attractive for locals.
Finally, the government could develop a mid-career conversion programme to help locals to make the switch, with David noting that many locals were employed as temporary swabbers or allied health care staff during the height of the pandemic.
Top image from MCI's YouTube page.