The Singapore Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung announced on Tuesday (Feb 20) that nurses in Singapore will receive up to S$100,000 in a new retention scheme, with payouts every four to six years.

This is part of a new retention incentive scheme, or the Award for Nurses’ Grace, Excellence and Loyalty (Angel), which will benefit about 29,000 nurses in the public healthcare system.

Under the scheme, each nurse can receive up to S$100,000 over 20 years, or up to the prevailing retirement age, which Singapore intends to raise to 65 by 2030, said Ong.

Newly recruited nurses and nurses aged below 46 will receive an award of S$20,000 to S$30,000 every four to six years, he added.

Nurses aged 46 and above who already have at least five years of service will receive an immediate award of S$5,000 to S$15,000, said Ong.

After that, they will be on an accelerated payout path, awarded S$15,000 every three years, he added, stressing that these nurses should be recognised for their many years of service.

Eligible nurses on post-retirement contracts will also receive the one-off recognition payout if they have at least five years in service, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a separate press release.

The scheme is also open to foreign nurses after they have served for four years in Singapore’s public healthcare sector. Those who have already served for four years or more are immediately eligible, said the Health Minister.

Long-serving nurses aged 46 and above will get their first retention award before the end of this year, he added, while younger nurses will get their first payout in 2028 when they reach their first milestone.

Publicly funded community care organisations and social service agencies can also apply to participate in the scheme. They will need to co-fund the awards, with most of the funding coming from the government, said Ong.

Most public healthcare nurses join the profession at a young age and will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the retention scheme if they stay on and pursue a career in nursing, said MOH in the press release.

Retention schemes recognise that government officers, including nurses, at certain ages or years of service are particularly likely to contemplate leaving for “very valid personal and family reasons”, said the Health Minister.

For example, they leave to start a family, further their studies, take care of aged parents or try out a new opportunity.

“A retention scheme signals to these officers, please think twice. Give yourself and give us a chance,” he added.

“As employers, we can help address these dilemmas and trade-offs in life, and help you stay in a career that you will find meaning and continue to make a very positive impact. On your part, if you stay on, perhaps after a while, things do work out after all.”

MOH also introduced a sign-on bonus for fresh nursing graduates in 2023, and public healthcare clusters hired 12 per cent more local fresh nursing graduates last year compared to the year before, said Ong.

Singapore has 65,000 public healthcare workers, and about 24,000 are nurses. Nurses are often the first touchpoint for patients and provide care, comfort and support to patients and their families around the clock, said the Health Minister.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore faced a higher-than-usual attrition of foreign nurses, he noted.

MOH Holdings and public healthcare institutions devoted efforts to recruit more nurses, and more than 5,600 of them accepted job offers since the end of 2022. About 4,500 are newly registered.

Overall, MOH has made up for the high nurse attrition in 2021 and 2022, he added. “We will continue to sustain this strong recruitment momentum for both local and foreign nurses.” – CNA


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