Money not everything, some say

One reason for medical personnel leaving for the private sector is money.

A highly successful specialist in private practice, for example, can make up to 10 times what he was drawing in the public sector.

While top doctors can earn more than S$1 million a year, with some reputed to rake in more than S$5 million, consultants in the public sector earn between S$12,000 and S$60,000 a month, based on their seniority and specialty.

To attract and retain health-care professionals in the public acute sector, the Health Ministry (MOH) and health-care clusters have recently announced salary enhancements to ensure that salaries remain competitive.

They have also improved career advancement opportunities, opened up new pathways for upgrading, and invested in the professional development and growth of nurses and allied health professionals.

But it's not always about the money.

Several doctors told The New Paper the reasons for moving include the desire for a better work-life balance, to continue working beyond the retirement age and the passion for taking care of patients over teaching the next generation.

'No time for patients'

Said one senior specialist, who declined to be named but who said he had been with the public sector for almost 20 years: "Taking younger colleagues through the paces is fine, but once they get competent, they leave, and I'm left with teaching the next group and the next, leaving me less time for my patients.

"I took the Hippocratic oath for one reason - because I want to treat the sick."

An MOH spokesman said public health-care institutions have also enabled health-care staff to better meet their work-life priorities.

Initiatives implemented include five-day work weeks, family care leave and part-time work arrangements.

The institutions have also enhanced the physical working environment and adopted IT innovations to lessen the administrative work of the staff.

Said the spokesman: "We will continue to engage our health-care staff in making the public sector an attractive and rewarding career choice."

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