S'pore hospitals bringing in volunteers to stop nurses burning out

Hospitals are also finding ways to retain healthcare workers.

Low Jia Ying | November 10, 2021, 02:47 PM

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Hospitals in Singapore are finding ways to ease the workload of nurses after a surge in resignations in the healthcare sector in the first half of this year.

Among the measures, hospitals in Singapore have been recruiting more staff, mobilising volunteers, and training non-nursing staff to do nursing duties, in hopes that existing healthcare workers will be less burnt out, according to The Straits Times (ST).

Training administrative staff and volunteers to take on more tasks

A National University Health System (NUHS) spokesperson told ST that Ng Teng Fong Hospital and Alexandra Hospital have been training its volunteers to take on more roles.

Some 80 volunteers at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, who were tasked with administrative roles, have been trained to "ease the load" in the general wards, the NUHS spokesperson said.

Regular hospital volunteers at Alexandra Hospital were also trained to screen and swab visitors and caregivers.

Non-nursing staff at Tan Tock Seng Hospital have also signed up to learn how to do basic nursing, reported ST.

These nursing tasks include feeding patients and turning them on their beds to prevent bedsores.

Encouraged to plan leave early, more flexible leave options

The NUHS spokesperson also told ST that staff are advised to plan their leaves early, so that everyone will get their turn to take a break.

Staff are also encouraged to take leave to "rest and recharge", said the spokesperson.

Otherwise, NUHS also provides the option to carry over or encash unutilised leave.

Efforts to retain and hire more staff

SingHealth group's chief human resource officer told ST that the group has been trying to boost their employee numbers by hiring both locally and internationally.

It is also trying to attract non-practising nurses to rejoin the workforce.

The group also hopes to retain its healthcare professionals by supporting their professional growth and development.

This is also the focus of IHH Healthcare Singapore's efforts to retain staff.

IHH Healthcare Singapore's nursing director told ST that it tries to sponsor their nurses' diplomas, degree and master programmes in nursing.

Monetary award from MOH

On Nov. 5, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that approximately 100,000 healthcare workers will receive a monetary award of S$4,000 to recognise their hard work during the pandemic.

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