SINGAPORE - To help Singapore cope with its rapidly ageing and growing population, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong unveiled the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan yesterday.
During the Committee of Supply debate, Mr Gan highlighted measures to deal with challenges in the health-care sector, such as the shortage of hospital beds and the need for more public health-care professionals.
On the issue of manpower, Mr Gan spoke of the need to "retain and attract high-calibre individuals".
So, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be rolling out a more competitive pay framework over the next two years, at the cost of $200 million.
The new framework will be implemented in phases and doctors will, on average, see an increase in total compensation of around 20 per cent by 2014.
Phase One will commence next month, and doctors will start to receive their pay raise according to their job levels.
Associate consultants in hospitals will get an increase equivalent to 20 per cent of their base salary, while consultant family physicians in polyclinics will get a 10 per cent raise.
Doctors will receive further increases when the framework is fully implemented in 2014.
Dentists' pay will also be adjusted.
Nurses, pharmacists and allied health professions will also get a one-time base-pay increase of between 4 and 17 per cent from next month.
Those in senior positions will have a 8 to 13 per cent base-pay increase.
Mr Gan added that 20,000 more health-care professionals are needed by 2020, as health- care facilities expand.
To help meet this demand, MOH will raise student intakes at medical institutes here, so as to boost the number of home- grown health-care practitioners.
The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, the third medical school here, will open next year with an initial intake of 50 students. This number will eventually grow to 150.
It is expected to boost the number of locally trained doctors to 500.
The higher student intake will also be extended to dentistry, nursing and pharmacy.
The dentistry intake will increase from 48 to 80, nursing from 1,700 to 2,700 and pharmacy from 160 to 240.
Efforts to attract back overseas-trained Singaporeans will also be stepped up by extending the pre-employment grant for medical students to those studying dentistry in recognised universities.
Qualified foreign health-care professionals will continue to be recruited to supplement the local health-care workforce.
Health-care infrastructure here will be ramped up, with plans to increase the number of acute- and community-hospital beds by 3,700 by 2020.
By then, acute-hospital bed numbers are expected to increase by over 30 per cent or 1,900, and community-hospital beds will increase to 2,600.
These beds will come from the new hospitals which will be constructed across the country.
These include Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, which is scheduled to open in 2014, and community hospitals in Yishun and Jurong, which will be ready by 2015.
Mr Gan said that the "increase in community hospitals will allow more stable patients to receive the appropriate care in a less-costly setting".
"At the same time, it will relieve the general hospitals and allow them to focus on more critically ill patients."
Long-term care services, such as those provided by nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, will be more than doubled by 2020.
Mr Gan also noted the importance of tapping on the private sector to ease the hospital-bed crunch.
The MOH has reached an in-principle agreement to lease beds from Parkway East Hospital and will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Raffles Hospital for it to help take on the load of subsidised patients from public hospitals.
"This can be a win-win situation for the private sector too as their capacity can be better utilised," said Mr Gan.
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