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Nurse questions why Covid-19 swab takers are paid more than those with qualifications and experience

Hongyu Sim who has been a nurse for 11 years questioned why people “with no healthcare background get a 3.4k or 3.8k pay immediately”

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Singapore – A nurse took to social media to highlight the differences in salary between the proposed S$3,800 for a Covid-19 Swabber and the salary of healthcare workers with their qualifications.

‘Swabbers’ and Swab Assistants are currently in demand. A recruitment exercise for those interested is being conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Based on a post shared by various members of Parliament, such as Sun Xueling, a remuneration of S$3,800 is being offered for the job of taking swabs, and S$3,400 for being a Swab Assistant.

The requirements to apply consist of being medically fit with no history of chronic diseases, proficiency in English and Chinese, Malay or Tamil and the availability to work in shifts, extended hours or over weekends. All other medical training needed will be provided.

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Photo: FB screengrab/Sun Xueling

Soon after the information was released, a nurse of 11 years, Hongyu Sim, went to Facebook to share a few insights on the matter. Although she “understood and accepted” the higher risks involved in the position and even extended her appreciation to those who stepped forward to apply, Ms Sim wondered why people “with no healthcare background get a 3.4k or 3.8k (sic) pay immediately.”

She wished to highlight the discrepancy and “under the carpet issue” of salary differences.

“Do you know how much is the average nursing graduate pay?” she asked. “Our first year, we are only paid 1.9k (sic) as a basic salary. Perhaps times are better now,” she added. Ms Sim noted that after five to six years on the job, still, their basic salary does not reach the S$3,800 level.

“Are you saying that our diplomas and degrees are worthless in the usual (sic) day?” asked Ms Sim. “You mean healthcare workers do not face risks on a usual (sic) day’s work?” Ms Sim mentioned that she was aware that the positions being offered are temporary with fewer benefits and higher risks involved.

She continued by asking if she applied for the job, would she be qualified to a higher compensation because of her degree plus 11 years of experience. “If no, then what message are you trying to put across?” she said.

Ms Sim hoped that after the pandemic is over, there would be a pay review for all healthcare workers as “tangible appreciation” for their efforts.

Read the full post below:

I am really appalled at how much the government is offering to pay for non-healthcare background people, I do understand…

Posted by HongYu Sim on Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Photo: FB Screengrab/HongYu Sim

Members from the online community were quick to share their opinions on the post.

CT Khoo had the same response as Ms Sim when it comes to putting a value on years of experience in a profession. Nancy Lim added that they do not get an extra allowance for being deployed to affected areas.

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

Meanwhile, others pointed out that the high compensation for taking swabs was an incentive for those who are less inclined to serve on the frontlines. Furthermore, the assignment is not long term.

Photo: FB screengrab

For those wondering on the differences in pay, Jason Michael Lim enumerated the numbers in a comment.

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

Cendy Sim, who is not a nurse, made a good point by saying, “I think all nurses should get a short term pay increase too.” She explained that they too face the same risk and have the experience to train and assist newcomers.

Photo: FB screengrab

Photo: FB screengrab

Read related:

NTFGH nurse confirmed for Covid-19 did not treat coronavirus patients two weeks before falling ill

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