Pay boost seen for health-care professionals

Pay boost seen for health-care professionals

Good news for health- care workers - the Ministry of Health will be looking into a salary review for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Speaking on the sidelines of a health-care career fair yesterday, Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health, said the review is "to attract more people to the profession".

She added that more details will be revealed in the upcoming Committee of Supply debate. Dr Khor also revealed that the ministry is looking to hire 6,400 more nurses, and 1,800 more allied health professionals and support staff, by 2020.

Currently, there are about 32,000 nurses and 2,000 allied health professionals here.

The additional manpower is to help staff an increase in the number of hospital beds - 1,900 acute-hospital beds and 1,800 community-hospital beds, to be added by 2020.

Dr Khor said: "Because of the rapidly ageing population and the increase in chronic- disease burden, there will be increasing demand for health- care services."

The Healthcare - You Make A Difference Careers Fair, held at *Scape, saw 50 nurses and allied health professionals, including those from the National Healthcare Group (NHG), sharing information about their jobs.

At the fair, eight allied health professions were showcased, including medical social work, respiratory therapy and speech therapy.

Organisers said that the eight professions were chosen as there was greatest demand for manpower in these professions. They also wanted to raise awareness about some of the lesser- known careers.

"A health-care career is not just nursing. If you ask a lot of people, they may not know much about the allied health professions," said Ms Olivia Tay, NHG's chief human-resource officer.

She added that NHG intends to hire another 110 allied health professionals this year.

Ms Tan Herng Lee, president of the Association of Respiratory Therapists (Singapore), said: "Our profession is rather niche, not so mainstream, so not many are aware of it."

She estimates that respiratory therapists, who help patients with breathing problems, number only about 60 here.

Besides being relatively unknown, some professions also suffer from misconceptions.

Ms Kang Xinyi, 24, a medical social worker at the Institute of Mental Health, said: "People equate medical social workers with volunteers who are not paid. But, in fact, this is a recognised profession."

Among the more than 1,100 jobseekers who attended, there were those interested in a mid- career switch, such as Ms Leng Xiuying, 28.

Said Ms Leng, an education training consultant: "Health care is a real concern of the future and there looks to be many job opportunities. I'm looking for a viable career option for the long term."

nggwen@sph.com.sg


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