SINGAPORE, Nov 6 — From December, some 100,000 healthcare workers from publicly funded healthcare organisations involved in the fight against Covid-19 will receive an award of up to S$4,000 (RM12,320.45) each, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.
Speaking at the National Medical Excellence Award ceremony, Ong said that the Covid-19 Healthcare Award will be conferred to three groups.
The first group comprises staff members of public healthcare institutions such as acute hospitals, community hospitals and polyclinics.
The second group involves staff members from community care organisations that deliver front-line healthcare services such as nursing homes.
The final group are Singapore’s Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) run by general practitioners that serve as the first port of call for coronavirus patients.
Ong said that the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) would award a S$10,000 grant to each clinic and it will be shared among the employees.
The awards recognise the dedication and contributions of health workers throughout the pandemic so far.
The announcement came several days after the Singapore government disclosed that resignations among healthcare workers had climbed in the first half of this year under the strain of the pandemic.
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Health, told Parliament on Monday that about 1,500 healthcare workers had resigned in the first half of this year alone, compared with about 2,000 yearly before the pandemic.
More foreign healthcare workers have also resigned.
During the same parliamentary seating, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Member of Parliament for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency, asked whether Singapore MOH had plans to support and recognise healthcare workers given the amount of stress they have shouldered and the work they have put in as a result of the pandemic.
In response, Ong said then that monetary reward is not everything, but it is a suggestion that his ministry was “seriously looking into”.
Singapore MOH said in a statement yesterday that the award would be given in the first quarter of next year to staff members of the public healthcare institutions in December, and to PHPCs and eligible employees of community care organisations — such as community hospitals that take in Covid-19 patients, nursing homes and dialysis centres.
Ong said yesterday that a monetary award does not “fully reflect the contribution of healthcare workers” and it is also not their main motivator.
“But it is an appropriate thing for MOH to do, to recognise your contribution in this very exceptional year,” he added.
‘Not for the faint-hearted’
In his speech, Ong said that stress levels have gone up “several notches” in recent weeks as Covid-19 transmission has remained at a high level, with more patients falling seriously ill and needing to be warded in intensive care units (ICU).
In response to the situation, aside from setting up more isolation and ICU beds, nurses and doctors have found themselves being redeployed and having to learn new skills on the go, he added.
Not only were their already long working hours getting even longer, he noted that some healthcare workers have not gone back to their home countries to see their loved ones for over a year.
Ong said the work that healthcare workers do is “not for the faint-hearted”.
“I have seen, with anger and shame, the disgraceful behaviour of those who shun nurses and healthcare workers, who turn away from you near your homes, who refuse your journeys,” he said to those present at the ceremony.
“But I know every one of us in this room, and the great majority of our society, deeply appreciates your work.”
Aside from announcing the Covid-19 Healthcare Award, Ong also presented awards to another group of recipients — the winners of the National Medical Excellence Awards for 2020 and 2021.
The annual award ceremony is in its 13th edition and it celebrates the clinical and research excellence of outstanding clinicians, clinician scientists, clinical teams, clinical quality champion, clinician educators and distinguished mentors.
Among the recipients yesterday were Professor Dale Fisher, an infectious disease expert who won the National Outstanding Clinician Award, and a Covid-19 research workgroup that received the National Clinical Excellence Team Award.
The team comprises:
- Associate Professor David Lye Chien Boon, director of infectious disease research and training office at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases
- Dr Barnaby Edward Young, a senior consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital
- Professor Lisa Fong Poh Ng, the executive director of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research infectious diseases labouratories
- Dr Chia Wan Ni, a research fellow from the National University of Singapore — TODAY