Pay rise for docs and dentists in public sector

About 4,150 senior doctors and dentists in the public sector will get a 9 per cent increase in their basic pay next month.

This comprises 4,000 senior doctors - namely specialists, family and resident physicians, and specialist trainees - and 140 dentists of similar seniority.

The move is part of the Health Ministry's larger push to retain staff in public health care, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor yesterday.

At the same time, the ministry will seek to augment the pool by reaching out to new sources.

Examples include mid-career professionals and former nurses who want to return to full-time work.

"The ability to attract talent and manpower into the health-care sector will be key to our success in upscaling our health-care capacity," said Dr Khor in Parliament.

Singapore is projected to need 20,000 more health-care professionals by 2020.

The workforce has grown by 6,000 between 2011 and last year.

But Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) said that many Singaporean doctors leave for the private sector due to heavier case loads and stressful residency programmes in the public sector.

"Failure to stem the tide of attrition means that Singaporean patients at public health institutions are dealing more often with foreign staff, and experience some language barriers," Ms Lim added.

Dr Khor replied: "While we may not be able to fulfil all these aspirations in the public health-care sector, we can do more to recognise the important roles that our health-care professionals play by paying them competitively."

The pay rise is part of a remuneration framework that recognises excellence in education, research, administration and clinical care.

Under the same framework, 45,000 public health-care workers got a pay rise in 2012.

Nurses may soon get their turn too.

The national task force which charts the future direction of nursing is expected to complete its review and submit its recommendations in the second half of this year, said Dr Khor.

The task force is looking at improving nurses' education and career progression, as well as increasing recognition and rewards for them.

Former nurses keen on returning are being helped to do so.

Refresher courses and training allowances are being given to help them ease back into the job.

Last year, following an outreach exercise, more than 600 said they were keen on returning to nursing.

A first group of 27 has since rejoined, she said.

Nevertheless, Singapore needs to top up its health-care workforce by recruiting foreign professionals.

They will be given language courses, orientation and immersion programmes to "help them adapt to the local working environment", Dr Khor added.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.