New schemes, awards among plans to attract more to join healthcare sector

April 14, 201610:01 am380 views

Amid an increasingly uncertain economic climate, there will continue to be many good job opportunities in the growing healthcare sector, said Senior Minister of State (Health) Amy Khor, as she outlined plans to attract more fresh school leavers and mid-career professionals to join the profession.

Among these efforts are a new Senior Management Associate Scheme to attract mid-career professionals with supervisory or managerial experience who can take on roles in new aged care facilities. The target is to recruit 10 such professionals each year, who can go on to take up senior positions like Centre Directors in institutions.

To attract non-practising local nurses back to work in the growing aged care sector, the Return-To-Nursing scheme, which includes a three-month refresher course, will be enhanced with better training in areas like geriatric and palliative care, and better training allowances. In addition, there will be a new one-time Community Care Placement Bonus at S$3,000 for Enrolled Nurses and S$5,000 for Registered Nurses joining the sector.

Speaking during the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Wednesday (April 13), Dr Khor also said the ministry will organise more career talks and exhibitions to secondary school students.

But even with the efforts to attract Singaporeans into the sector, the need to bring in foreign healthcare workers to augment the workforce remains. “We will continue to help these workers adapt to our practices and working environment,” said Dr Khor.

To support skills upgrading, a new Healthcare Skills Future Study Awards will be introduced and aims to benefit 50 healthcare staff this year. The S$5,000 study awards will support learning and development in the areas of aged care, healthcare IT and analytics and healthcare system design, organisation and delivery.

To help older workers stay in the sector, the MOH will also be introducing mechanisation and flexible working arrangements, redesigning jobs and providing re-training.

“Our healthcare institutions will also strengthen workplace health programmes and introduce new retirement planning programmes for their mature workers. These include pre- and post-retirement workshops, to guide older healthcare workers through career transition issues,” said Dr Khor.

Meanwhile, the drive to add to healthcare capacity continues. A new polyclinic in Eunos to meet demand for primary care was announced by Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, to be ready by 2020.

Already in the works are polyclinics in Punggol and Jurong West, which will open next year. Two more Family Medicine Clinics, which bring in nurses and other allied health professionals to provide comprehensive care for chronic disease management, will open in Tampines and Keat Hong by early next year.

Providing updates on the Healthcare 2020 Master Plan during his speech, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said more than 900 hospital beds were added last year, through Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and the Jurong and Yishun Community Hospitals. The three hospitals will continue to ramp up this year to add another 270 beds.

Capacity for long-term care has also grown: Between 2011 and last year, 1,200 nursing home beds were added, and home care, day care and home palliative care places went up by 60 per cent.

“Looking forward to 2020, we are on track to add more than 6,600 places in community care, home care, and palliative care as well as 7,900 beds in acute hospitals, community hospitals and nursing homes,” Mr Gan added.

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