SINGAPORE - About 100,000 public healthcare workers involved in pandemic response will receive a special award amounting to $4,000 each for their courage and invaluable work, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday (Nov 5).
The Covid-19 Healthcare Award will go to all staff of public healthcare institutions, such as acute hospitals, community hospitals and polyclinics, as well as staff from community care organisations that deliver front-line healthcare services, such as in nursing homes.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) will also award a grant of $10,000 to each of the Public Health Preparedness Clinics, which serve as the first port of call for Covid-19 patients, to be shared among their staff.
Mr Ong made the announcement at the National Medical Excellence Awards (NMEA) ceremony.
In his speech, the minister said: "I know a monetary award does not fully reflect the contribution of healthcare workers, neither is it the main motivator of a healthcare worker. But it is an appropriate thing for MOH to do, to recognise your contribution in this very exceptional year."
The Covid-19 Healthcare Award will also be extended to publicly funded Community Care Organisations (CCOs) that provide healthcare services. These include community hospitals that take in Covid-19 patients, as well as nursing homes and dialysis centres that have expanded their capacity and worked tirelessly to keep vulnerable elderly in need of nursing care out of hospitals, freeing up hospital beds, MOH said in a statement on Friday.
The Award will be given to public healthcare institution staff in December, and to PHPCs and eligible staff of the CCOs in the first quarter of 2022.
Stress levels among healthcare staff have gone up several notches in recent weeks, Mr Ong noted, as the Covid-19 transmission wave sustained at a high level, with more patients falling seriously ill and needing care in the intensive care unit (ICU).
In response, more isolation and ICU beds had to be set up, nurses and doctors had to be redeployed, and working hours became longer, among others, he added.
"This work is not for the faint-hearted... You are our last line of defence - standing between us and the abyss. When vaccination, safe management, therapeutics and the patient's last bodily resistance are all breached, you still refuse to yield. You stand next to the patient as his last hope," he said.
Mr Ong then went on to speak about the NMEA winners.
A total of nine individuals and three teams will be receiving the 2020 and 2021 National Medical Excellence Awards.
“They are all great examples of the spirit of excellence and innovation in healthcare,” Mr Ong said.
He also noted the importance of the event, stressing how innovation and transformation will be the lifeblood of the healthcare sector in the coming decade.
One major disruption is the ageing population, which will drive healthcare expenditure to increase from about $25 billion today to $60 billion by 2030, if nothing was done, Mr Ong said.
“We must therefore shift the emphasis of healthcare. Devote some resources early to help people stay healthy and prevent sickness, instead of expending intensive resources later for treating them when they become very sick,” he noted.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.