Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Health (a) whether nurses working in public healthcare institutions are allowed to work as locum nurses in other public healthcare institutions; and (b) if not, whether the Ministry can permit them to do so in order to alleviate the manpower crunch in public healthcare institutions and enable nurses to increase their income if they choose to and boost retention in the profession.
Mr Ong Ye Kung: Nurses and our other healthcare workers have been deployed across settings beyond their regular duties, to step up our service capacity as well as to manage the increased demand in our emergency departments and hospital wards from COVID-19 cases and other patients with chronic medical conditions. These deployments have also included assignments to other hospitals and facilities, such as COVID-19 treatment facilities supported by their cluster.
Nurses may also volunteer their services to work in other areas of need with permission from their hospital management. However, their primary responsibility is to their parent hospital and supported facilities. This is to ensure that the nurses are not fatigued, to avoid compromising patient safety. Such deployments are also limited by the need to learn new protocols and work processes.
It is unlikely that encouraging nurses to work on a locum basis will address the manpower crunch in our public health institutions in a significant way. We will continue to focus on ongoing efforts to recruit more nurses into our ranks to support the increased care demands.
Ministry of Health
7 November 2022