Singapore offers payouts to retain nurses

Singapore will pay nurses a bonus of up to SGD$100,000 to encourage them to stay in the public health system as the city-state deals with a staff shortage and a rapidly ageing society.

About 29,000 nurses will be eligible for the payout, including foreign nurses who have worked in the country for four years, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Tuesday.

“We want to support our nurses to do a good job,” Ong said.

Ong said Covid-19 had exacerbated the nursing shortage in Singapore, with a higher than usual number of foreign nurses leaving during the pandemic.

Most foreign nurses in Singapore come from neighbouring countries including Malaysia, the Philippines and Myanmar.

Under the incentive scheme announced by Ong, nurses will be entitled to up to S$100,000 ($74,500) over 20 years, or up to retirement age, whichever comes first.

Last year, the authorities introduced a SGD$15,000 sign-on bonus for fresh nursing graduates who joined public hospitals or clinics.

Ong said intake numbers for nursing students increased by about 30 percent from 2013 to 2023.

“It is worth pointing out that with falling birthrates, fewer babies, and shrinking student cohorts, just keeping these intakes stable is a very encouraging outcome,” said Ong.

Singapore, like many Asian countries, has been grappling with an ageing population.

The health ministry estimates that one in four Singaporeans will be 65 or older by 2030, while an estimated 83,000 seniors will live alone.