According to Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung, an average of around 1,200 foreign healthcare workers have been granted permanent resident (PR) status annually over the past five years in Singapore. In response to a parliamentary question, Minister Ong revealed that more than 60% of these PR grants were given to nurses, with the remaining individuals comprising doctors, allied health professionals, and other healthcare workers.
The increase in PR grants for foreign nurses over the past year was specifically acknowledged as a recognition of their crucial role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting Singapore’s growing healthcare needs. Minister Ong emphasized that foreign healthcare workers are an integral part of the healthcare system in Singapore. Those who demonstrate commitment to the country and become valued members of the healthcare community are eligible to be granted PR status.
The healthcare workforce in Singapore is composed of a majority of Singaporean citizens as well as foreign manpower from various countries. Minister Ong highlighted the collaborative efforts of both Singaporean and foreign healthcare workers, stating that they serve patients together and face crises collectively.
The intensified global competition for healthcare workers, particularly nurses, has resulted in a worldwide shortage and increased demand for care. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam noted a spike in attrition rates among foreign nurses, which rose from 9.5% to 14.5% between 2019 and 2022. This loss of local and foreign nurses to competitor countries has contributed to increased stress and workloads for the remaining healthcare professionals.
To address this issue, Minister Ong previously announced plans to bring on board close to 4,000 new nurses by the end of 2023 to replace those lost to other countries and expand Singapore’s nursing workforce. These new nurses are expected to make up approximately 10% of Singapore’s nursing workforce, helping to meet the increasing healthcare demands and safeguard the welfare of nurses in the country.