Angry Doctor

Friday, February 09, 2007

Gongxi Facai 3

A bit of good news to end the week on.

Healthier wages for health workers
Nurses among those to enjoy a pay hike this year

WITH workers across most sectors looking forward to pay hikes this year in a buoyant economy, there's now good news for nurses and allied health workers, too.

From this month, 14,000 of them under the two major healthcare clusters will be paid between $30 and $250 more a month each — in a move aimed at addressing the perennial shortage of nurses.

Nurses will enjoy a 3-to-7-per-cent increase in salary, while allied healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists and medical social workers, will a get 2-to-6-per-cent pay rise. This will be on top of their annual wage increments.

The last time these professionals had their pay adjusted across the board was in 2001.

Healthcare assistants — who perform tasks previously handled by nurses, such as changing and feeding patients — will get an additional monthly allowance of 2.5 per cent over their normal salary increases.

In all, the pay hikes will cost the Health Ministry an extra $28 million a year. Yesterday, in a joint statement, the SingHealth and the National Healthcare Group called the latest adjustment "a major step towards better aligning the salaries of these key personnel with the improving job market and optimistic economic forecasts".
With nurses' salaries typically ranging from $1,100 to about $6,000, the move was welcomed by many like Ms Lindy Toh, a staff nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The 26-year-old, who worked in the civil engineering industry for three years before making the switch in 2005, said: "When I was choosing my course of study years ago, my family stopped me as they didn't have a good impression of nursing because of the pay and the perception of what nurses do.

"I think the enhanced pay package will motivate and encourage more people to take up nursing."

This is what Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan hopes to achieve. "There's always a shortage of nurses not just here, but globally, so let's keep on training and recruiting as many as we can," he said.

While the industry has met its manpower targets in recent years, Mr Khaw said there was still a need to recruit foreign nurses.

He believes that the upbeat economic outlook will last for a few years more, and that will mean more foreign patients coming to Singapore for treatment. That could lead to the private sector trying to woo workers from the public sector.

Conceding that allied healthcare had been a lower priority in the past, Mr Khaw said this was an area of focus on for the next three years, given the ageing population.

So, the Health Ministry is now looking at those who are willing to make mid-career switches to become physiotherapists, speech therapists and optometrists.

angry doc hopes he will benefit from this move in the form of more Chinese New Year snacks from the nurses, who will have more cause to be generous in the coming festive season.



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