Wanted: More healthcare workers as Covid cases rise

SINGAPORE: With the renewed surge in Covid-19 cases and an overworked healthcare system, the city-state faces a manpower shortage.

The Singapore Nursing Board's annual report showed that the number of nurses fell for the first time in almost 15 years. There are 42,096 nurses recorded in 2020, 572 fewer than in 2019.

The Ministry of Health had already called on the Singapore Healthcare Corps as well as the inactive but registered nurses but only about 900 individuals responded. The MOH will assign them to public hospitals for job matching.

To increase its manpower, Tan Tock Seng Hospital trained 150 non-nursing employees for essential, low-risk tasks, such as recording patients’ vital signs and caregiving. The trainees will aid nurses whose focus are on clinical care.

But one of the doctors, who refused to be named, said that adding the number of medical workers may not be that easy. Highly-trained professionals are needed in intensive care and high dependency units to manage the patients, but only a few are qualified. The doctor revealed that his hospital’s management opened more wards and increased manpower only when the situation worsened. They are stretching their capacity while accepting more patients.

Another healthcare worker at Changi General Hospital disclosed that as more beds are provided, more nurses and doctors are needed to attend to the patients. Two nurses are necessary to take care of one patient in the intensive care. He added that junior doctors are also assisting.

One of the doctors at a public hospital wondered where to get more critical manpower whenever hospitals bring in more beds and increase intensive care capacities. She divulged that their annual leaves were forfeited, and weekends off are always pending. She has been working continuously for the past three weeks.

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