Singapore may not have enough nurses as the Philippines suspends nurse permits

Singapore may not have enough nurses as the Philippines suspends nurse permits

Last week, Straits Times published a premium article that reported that the Philippines is suspending the permits for nurses who want to work overseas with immediate effect.

And as a result, Singapore could face a shortage of nurses since about a third of the nursing workforce is made up of foreign nationals.

Why is the Philippines suspending permits for nurses?

According to the report, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said it suspended issuing employment certificates to work overseas as the annual deployment limit of 5,000 healthcare workers has been reached.

This decision by the Philippines will affect nurses, as well as nursing aides and assistants.

Filipino nurses formed the largest pool of foreign nurses in Singapore

As at end 2019, about 7,600 employees in its nursing workforce were from the Philippines, said Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).

Data from the Singapore Nursing Board 2019 annual report also showed that Filipino nurses formed the largest pool of foreign nurses here, while the next biggest source of registered foreign nurses here is from Malaysia.

MOH said that it will continue to assess the situation and ensure that our nursing workforce can meet our healthcare needs.

Local nursing force still needs to be heavily supplemented by foreign nurses

In 2019, Singapore had 34,609 registered nurses and 8,059 enrolled nurses – with nurses from the Philippines accounting for 29% of the enrolled nurse workforce and 15% of all registered nurses, who have higher qualifications.

Singapore also has been trying to attract more people here to opt for nursing as a career as well as retain nurses already in the workforce.

While Singapore has made significant progress in attracting locals to join nursing, Mrs Josephine Ong, the director of nursing at IHH Healthcare Singapore said that the local nursing force still needs to be heavily supplemented by nurses from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, and Myanmar, among others.

In March this year, it was announced in Parliament that MOH will be increasing the monthly base salaries of public healthcare workers in Singapore.

Nurses in the public healthcare sector will receive an increase of 5% to 14% in their monthly base salaries from July, while other workers in the public healthcare sector to get an increase of 3 to 7% in their monthly salaries this year.

Singapore cannot do without foreign workers

This applies to not just the nursing or healthcare industry leh.

As much as many Singaporeans here do not like the idea of having foreigners in our workforce, the cold hard truth here is that we cannot afford to cut away all these foreign workers because we face a never-ending shortage of labour.

In case you didn’t know, Singapore’s low birth rate is one of the key factors why we don’t have enough manpower. Just last year, births by residents numbered only 34,352.

If we don’t have enough labour or manpower, then there will be delays in the completion of housing, transport, healthcare and other infrastructure. You want meh? You can wait meh? No right?

So, in order to keep Singapore going, the only other solution is to depend on these foreign workers – tap their skills, make use of their expertise, make them work for us first while we try to either boost our birthrate or up our own game.

Good times of course ok to keep them to continue to help Singapore to prosper and huat more lah. But at times of crisis, don’t forget that these foreign workers are also usually the first to tio pok and asked to balik kampung first hor.


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