Kwek Hian Chuan Henry
COS Cut for MOH
1. In my recent private member motion on senior policy, I noted that MOH has embarked on arguably one of the fastest expansion in healthcare spending among developed countries.
2. In a few short years, we have ramped up considerable infrastructure.
3. However, effective healthcare, especially to meet our aging population, requires a well-trained healthcare workforce.
4. This proper training is especially important, given that we are also transforming the way we deliver healthcare services – from a hospital centric to a people-centric model, and through an aggressive adoption of technology.
5. As such, can MOH give an update on our preparations to ensure that our healthcare workforce has both the necessary hard skills and soft skills to care for the aged?
6. Lastly, I would like to thank our healthcare workers, nurses, doctors, and medical social workers for their hard work and dedication.
MOH has been working closely with SkillsFuture Singapore to develop a Skills Framework for nurses, allied health professionals and support care staff to facilitate a national recognition of skills in the healthcare industry and the development of career progression pathways and remuneration frameworks. This is targeted to be developed by the end of this year, and we will be engaging employers and the healthcare union on its adoption. I note that Ms Thanaletchimi has also called for the formation of an Association for the ILTC sector. As SMS Lam mentioned in Parliament on 1 March, we already have existing structures in place to promote collaboration among sectoral bodies, AIC and MOH, and will continue to strengthen existing partnerships and build new ones.
MOH will be investing in developing a more robust Continuing Education and Training system, which is skills-based and industry-focused, for our nursing profession, to complement pre-employment training, in a few ways.
First, we want to develop a more comprehensive and coordinated system of upgrading to higher qualifications. We will collaborate with our institutes of higher learning and healthcare institutions to design skills-based, modularised and stackable courses for nurses, that can add up over time to higher qualifications. Both Nanyang Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic have introduced part-time skills deepening programmes such as the Specialist Diplomas in nursing gerontology, community gerontology and clinical education. As of end 2017, about 90 nurses have enrolled in the three specialist diploma courses.
Later this year, NUS Nursing will introduce a new part-time and modular graduate diploma in Community Health Nursing to equip nurses with the clinical skills to manage population health needs in the community, including clinical decision making and chronic disease management. The new programme will allow nurses greater flexibility in pursuing part-time study while continuing to work. They can obtain a graduate certificate upon completion of each module that will ‘stack up’ towards a graduate diploma.
Second, we want to build a more robust system of in-employment training, across the acute as well as ILTC sectors. Given the dynamic healthcare landscape, our nurses will have to continue to learn and deepen their skills on the job. MOH, together with the Singapore Nursing Board will engage the nursing leadership to look into a stronger system of skills recognition, so that nurses who are trained by any accredited healthcare institution, can have their skills recognised for portability across the healthcare sector. This may mean that a stronger national skills credentialing capability will have to be built.
Third, we want to nurture and build up stronger institutions for nursing education. As a start, we will be working with NUS Nursing to strengthen the nexus of its curriculum with practice, by forming a new advisory council comprising key nursing leaders from both the acute and community care sectors. In the future, we envisage new national centres of excellence in specific areas of specialised nursing education that will train practicing nurses across the various healthcare clusters, in specific skills such as geriatric care.
Taken together, we hope to build a first class nursing education system that can empower our nurses with deep skills and give them the confidence to be at the forefront of driving care transformation.