30,000 more healthcare workers needed by 2020 as population ages: MOH

30,000 more healthcare workers needed by 2020 as population ages: MOH

Through training support and the use of technology to improve work processes, the Health Ministry aims to attract more healthcare workers by 2020.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) launched a manpower plan on Thursday (Oct 20) in the hopes of attracting more Singaporeans to take up careers in the healthcare industry and ensure they are well-equipped.

The Health Ministry estimated that an estimated 30,000 more healthcare workers would be needed by 2020 to meet the demands of an ageing population.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, launching the 2020 Healthcare Manpower Plan on Thursday, said the plan aimed to meet the growth in demand for healthcare and sustain good salaries for workers.

The plan consists of three strategies: Equipping the healthcare workforce with relevant skillsets to prepare for the evolving healthcare needs of an ageing population, growing a strong local core by investing in fresh school leavers as well as mid-career entrants and improving the work environment and patient experience with technology.

The initiatives to equip healthcare workers with better skills include a new SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme in gerontology nursing, which will be introduced by Nanyang Polytechnic from December 2016 to give new nursing graduates the opportunity to undergo on-the-job training.

More doctors are also being trained in the community, with a 30 per cent increase in family medicine trainees expected by 2019, the Health Ministry said.

To build a strong Singaporean core in the healthcare industry, MOH said scholarships and sponsorships would be available for young Singaporeans to pursue healthcare training programmes at both local and overseas institutions.

Mid-career professionals will be supported through several initiatives, including an enhanced healthcare professional conversion programme which will provide participants with a training allowance during their courses of study.

Another initiative is the Return to Nursing programme, which will see former nurses undergo a refresher course before starting work.

The Healthcare Manpower Plan's third strategy, to leverage technology to improve productivity in the sector, includes partnering healthcare providers to improve processes, adopt new technologies, expand job roles and review rules and regulations.

"In tandem with our aspirations to become a Smart Nation, public healthcare institutions are endeavouring to deliver more efficient and productive services through the use of technology," MOH stated in documents distributed on the plan.

MOH Ward of the Future

Some of the technologies MOH envisions being incorporated into future healthcare wards. (Infographic: MOH)

Mr Gan described the transformation of the healthcare workforce "as a journey that we need to embark together – as leaders, as healthcare workers, as patients and caregivers (and) as individuals".

"Only if we all share the same vision of what a good healthcare system is for tomorrow is, and what the important skills and career options are, can we build a healthcare system that will serve Singaporeans well for many more years to come," the Health Minister said.

Source: CNA/mz