S'pore recruited 5,600 nurses in 2023, exceeding target of 4,000: Ong Ye Kung

According to MOH, the annual intake of nurses has "consistently" been higher than the outflow.

Matthias Ang | February 12, 2024, 01:56 PM



Singapore recruited 5,600 nurses in 2023, including 4,500 nurses who are already registered to work, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Feb. 10 during a visit to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

This is above the recruitment target of 4,000 nurses that was set for 2023, he added, according to The Straits Times (ST).

In addition, the 4,500 nurses registered to work in 2023 also exceeds the 3,400 nurses registered in 2022.

Ong was quoted as saying:

"We are always short of healthcare manpower. So last year, we set ourselves a target to recruit 4,000 nurses, in private as well as public healthcare systems, in order to first replenish those we lost during Covid-19 and, at the same time, expand our workforce further."

Singapore experienced a higher attrition rate of foreign nurses in 2021 and 2022

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the 2023 target of 4,000 nurses is around 30 per cent higher than the average number of new nurses onboarded between 2018 and 2022.

MOH also noted that Singapore had experienced a higher attrition rate of foreign nurses in 2021 and 2022, amidst the lifting of Covid-19 border restrictions and intensifying global competition for healthcare workers.

In 2022, 75 per cent of the registered nurses in Singapore were either Singapore citizens or PRs, according to ST.

This was followed by 13 per cent of nurses coming from the Philippines, 5.7 per cent from Malaysia, 2.4 per cent from Myanmar, and the remainder coming from other countries, including India and China.

MOH: Necessary to augment Singapore's healthcare workforce with foreign nurses

In July 2023, Ong said that more foreign nurses had been granted Permanent Residence (PR) status in recognition of their crucial role during the pandemic and supporting Singapore's healthcare needs.

A spokesperson for MOH said that between 2018 and 2022, about 700 foreign nurses were granted PR status each year, ST reported.

The spokesperson also highlighted then that the annual intake of nurses has "consistently" been higher than the outflow and that such a trend is expected to continue.

In addition, while MOH has expanded the local training pipelines, it is still necessary to augment Singapore's healthcare workforce with foreign nurses.

Long-term incentive programme for nurses to be announced soon

During his Tan Tock Seng hospital visit, Ong also said that a new long-term incentive programme for nurses will be announced by MOH before Feb. 24, the 15th day of Chinese New Year.

The minister noted that such programmes are already in place for teachers and officers in the Home Team and Singapore Armed Forces.

Given that nurses are the largest group of professionals within Singapore's healthcare system, such an incentive can form "quite a significant component of their renumerations".

In acknowledging that public healthcare is a challenging field, he said, "Patient load is rising, patients’ families can be demanding. But whatever it is, I think we have to do it together, help out each other, and work as a team."

Top photo via Ong Ye Kung/Facebook