SINGAPORE — According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), an average of 1,200 foreign healthcare workers were granted permanent resident (PR) status each year over the last five years. The Minister for Health, Ong Ye Kung, provided this information in response to a question posed by Dr Tan Wu Meng, a member of parliament from Jurong GRC, who filed the parliamentary question on Monday, Jul 3.

Dr Tan had asked the Minister for Health how many foreign healthcare workers across the medical, nursing and allied health fields have been granted Singapore permanent residency respectively, and whether foreign healthcare workers who have stood by Singapore and Singaporeans during the COVID-19 pandemic can be granted Singapore permanent residency more expeditiously.

In a written reply, Minister Ong stated, “More than six in ten are nurses (those who were granted PR status), and the remainder include doctors, allied health professionals, and other healthcare workers. In the past year, more nurses were granted PR status, in recognition of the essential role they played in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation to support Singapore’s growing healthcare needs.”

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Moh further shared that the healthcare workforce in Singapore is predominantly made up of Singaporeans, with foreign manpower from various countries. These dedicated healthcare workers in the healthcare industry serve patients, supporting one another and weathering crises together.

“Foreign healthcare workers are an integral part of our healthcare system, and for those who become valued members of our healthcare community and demonstrate commitment to Singapore, we have been and are prepared to grant them Permanent Resident (PR) status,” added the written reply by MOH.

With the increasing demand for healthcare in Singapore, Dr Wan Rizal, a member of parliament for Jalan Besar GRC, raised a crucial question to the Minister of Health. He inquired about their plans to retain the vast expertise of senior healthcare professionals who aspire to make meaningful contributions in less physically demanding roles.

The Minister responded, expressing his appreciation for the valuable contribution made by senior healthcare workers. He emphasised the importance of these experienced individuals sharing their expertise and knowledge with the next generation of healthcare workers through mentorship and education.

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“We do this by working with our public healthcare clusters to support upskilling and re-skilling efforts; redesigning jobs to make them less physically demanding; deploying assistive technology; and reassigning the senior workers to new roles where possible and accepted. As a standard practice, clusters will re-employ healthcare workers beyond the statutory retirement age of 63, and extend beyond if the healthcare workers are willing,” mentioned MOH in their reply to Dr Rizal.

Additionally, MOH hopes that retired healthcare workers will consider volunteering in healthcare clusters. These clusters have extensive volunteer programmes that offer a wide range of opportunities, from care-related duties in the wards to community engagement roles that are not physically demanding.

“They may also take up volunteer roles in the community care sector, such as at nursing homes, Active Ageing Centres, or with home care services, where they can support other seniors,” added MOH.