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Average of 1,200 foreign healthcare workers granted PR status annually in the past five years

SINGAPORE — An average of 1,200 foreign healthcare workers have been granted permanent residency (PR) status each year over the past five years, according to Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.

This was said in response to Written Parliamentary Questions submitted by Dr Tan Wu Meng, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, on Monday (3 July).

Dr Tan had inquired about the number of foreign healthcare workers granted PR status in the medical, nursing, and allied health fields for each year in the past five years.

Additionally, he asked whether foreign healthcare workers who stood by Singapore and Singaporeans during the COVID-19 pandemic could be granted PR status more expeditiously.

In response, Mr Ong highlighted that among these foreign workers, more than 60% are nurses, while the remainder includes doctors, allied health professionals, and other healthcare workers.

He stated that in the past year, more nurses were granted PR status to recognize their essential role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and to support Singapore’s growing healthcare needs.

“Our healthcare workforce comprises a sizeable majority of Singaporeans, and foreign manpower from many countries. They serve patients alongside each other, and go through crisis together. ”

Mr Ong acknowledged that foreign healthcare workers are an integral part of Singapore’s healthcare system.

“For those who become valued members of our healthcare community and demonstrate commitment to Singapore, we have been and are prepared to grant them PR status.”

In October 2022, Minister Ong said Singapore simply not enough local nurses available”

During a Parliamentary sitting in October last year, the Health Minister emphasised the shortage of local nurses in Singapore and the need to rely on more foreign nurses.

Mr Ong had mentioned that Singapore will require more nurses by 2030 due to the aging population.

Currently, there are 58,000 nurses, and the Ministry of Health (MOH) estimates that this number needs to increase to 82,000 by 2030.

This implies that MOH will need an additional 24,000 nurses in the next eight years, averaging around 3,000 per year.

The Health Minister highlighted that by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. He emphasised the need for nurses, allied health professionals, and support care staff in hospitals, clinics, and eldercare centres.

“If we want to take care of our seniors and the sick, if we want to reduce the workload of healthcare workers, we must expect foreign healthcare workers to play a bigger role in the coming years,” said Mr Ong.

“This is especially so in areas that are facing a bigger manpower crunch, like aged care or palliative care.”

However, he reassured the House that there had not been an exodus of local nurses.

Efforts are being made to increase the intake of nursing students locally to 2,300, up from the current 2,100, which means an additional 200 local students per intake.

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