SINGAPORE: Singapore will need some 1,700 healthcare workers to cater to the 10 new nursing homes that will be set up by 2016.
Speaking to the media at the end of his community visit to Potong Pasir constituency on Sunday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said his ministry will step up recruitment efforts to hire 350 nursing staff, with the rest being supporting workers.
Among the avenues being looked at are educational institutions like the institutes of technical education (ITEs) and polytechnics.
The ministry will also encourage the conversion of mid—career healthcare workers to fill the vacancies in these nursing homes.
Another area being tapped is the pool of retirees who can come back to work part—time to fill up these careers.
The ministry is also reviewing career opportunities for the nursing profession.
"In addition to the salary and wages, we also have to look at how we can create more career opportunities for these healthcare workers. Nurses, for example, we want to allow them to continue to progress — some of them may go into management...some of them may go into education or research — to make their career more exciting and fulfilling. In that way, we would be able to retain our nurses and recruit more," said Mr Gan.
A major part of the hour—long dialogue during Mr Gan’s ministerial visit on Sunday focused on healthcare and ageing issues.
He stressed that the government is regularly looking at ways to keep healthcare costs down for Singaporeans.
He explained: "Even on the primary care side, we have to continue to ensure that we do not send our patients for unnecessary scanning or testing, which are costly. So we would have to have a very strong governance protocol to ensure that the patients are sent only for the necessary scanning but not the unnecessary ones. We also want to make sure that they are not given unnecessary treatment. We want to make sure that by doing so, we keep the healthcare costs low."
Mr Gan, who is also the chairman of the Inter—Ministerial Committee on Ageing, emphasised that at the end of the day, the best way for Singaporeans to keep their medical costs down is to remain healthy and fit.
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