New retention scheme a 'reason to stay' but payouts not substantial enough, say some nurses

SCHEME “FALLS SHORT” IN SOME AREAS

But Sarah and some nurses CNA spoke to pointed out they have to wait four to six years for each payout and that the incentive does not apply to those in the private healthcare sector.  

Sarah, who has been a nurse for 10 years, acknowledged that the retention scheme serves as an “additional boost” on top of existing benefits. 

But a S$20,000 payout over four years means S$5,000 a year, or just S$417 per month.

This is “close to” the amount a locum or stand-in nurse receives in one shift, Sarah noted. “I feel that it is the main reason why nurses are speaking up; (they do) not consider it a substantial amount,” she said, pointing to comments from fellow nurses on social media. 

To this, SIT’s Assoc Prof Siow said: “It is difficult to put a specific amount on what is considered a sufficient payout for nurses.

“At first pass, the amounts do look generous, but it must be understood that these payouts happen every four to six years,” she said.

“Some nurses may forgo the amounts if they have better opportunities elsewhere or prefer to leave the workforce for personal reasons – such as to take care of family or children – despite the loss of these payouts.”

Janet (not her real name), a home care nurse working at a community care organisation, also told CNA that while she appreciates the Health Ministry’s initiative to retain nurses, she believes it “falls short”.

“Nurses need an annual salary increase with a minimum cap. We are underpaid, considering the hard work we put in to meet patients’ needs and deliver quality care,” said the 36-year-old who has been a nurse for more than 10 years.

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, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Tuesday.

Private hospitals, however, are not included in the scheme. 

“I would be grateful if such schemes are given to private sectors as well. As nurses, be it in the government or private sector, the job is equally stressful and lacks staff welfare,” said Mr Staffan Stewart, who works in the transitional care facility at Raffles Hospital.

“I do hope that private hospital nurses will also be recognised for their hard work,” added the 31-year-old.

Mr Stewart also wanted to see that the welfare of all healthcare workers, and not just nurses, improve gradually. 

“If not, it’s painful to see our locals moving away to other countries just to get the life they are unable to live in Singapore.”

Nurses also told CNA that there is more to retaining the workforce than money.

“Beyond monetary compensation, nurses require adequate rest, a safe working environment, protection from healthcare worker abuse, and opportunities for promotion and career progression within the health organisation,” said Alexandra Hospital nurse Ms Yap.

Likewise, Assoc Prof Siow highlighted that nursing attrition is a multi-faceted issue which “cannot be addressed just by one solution”. 

“The pull factors for remaining in the profession are not entirely monetary. There are other factors that should be considered such as work conditions, passion for the job, regard for the profession, opportunities for upskilling and opportunities for career progression,” she said. 

“Beyond implementing measures to retain nurses, we need to continue efforts to grow the nursing workforce by getting more people to consider nursing as a career.” 

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Star Awards 2024: All That Glitters up for the most awards, Andie Chen has double nominations

This year’s live red carpet and awards ceremony show, happening on Apr 21 at Stars Avenue, takes the theme of “Ignite, Inspire, Impact, Influence” and will feature four chapters of tributes and performances, each dedicated to one of the aspects. “Ignite” celebrates young talents and rising stars, “Inspire” spotlights supporting artists and programme hosts, “Impact” is dedicated to performers with high accolades and “Influence” is all about popularity award recipients.

The seven-hour Backstage LIVE commentary marathon is also set to return.

Like last year, there will also be a separate closed-door Gala Night on Apr 15 for the Programme and Creative Achievement awards, held at Zouk Singapore.

This year also sees more recognition for radio DJs with the introduction of a new Best Audio Personality award. Along with the Best Radio Programme accolade, this category will be judged solely by a panel of professional judges.

Fans can already start preparing for the voting categories, with the Best Theme Song category already open and voting for the artist popularity awards commencing in March.

For more information and the full list of nominees, visit mediacorp.sg/StarAwards

Catch the Star Awards 2024 Live Show on Apr 21 at 7pm (Walk Of Fame at 5pm and Backstage LIVE starting 3.30pm online) on Channel 8, Channel U, mewatch and Mediacorp Entertainment’s YouTube Channel.

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Outdoor adventure education sites to be consolidated from 8 to 4; public golf course to make way

The Mandai centre will be developed on the site currently occupied by the Mandai Executive Golf Course at Upper Seletar Reservoir after its tenancy expires.

This centre will potentially allow students to participate in water activities – depending on an environmental impact assessment – and accommodate larger-scale camps by uniformed groups, said MOE.

Meanwhile, the Sembawang centre will be developed at a site near PAssion WaVe @ Sembawang.

This centre will support water activities like kayaking and outrigger canoeing, and allow uniformed groups to participate in land and sea expeditions, added MOE. 

The exact locations and development of the Mandai and Sembawang centres will be guided by environmental impact assessments, which are expected to start next year. 

Nature groups such as Nature Society (Singapore) and Singapore Youth Voices for Biodiversity have been tapped for the preliminary phase.

The Education Ministry also said it will work closely with the National Parks Board (NParks), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and national water agency PUB, while public feedback from stakeholders in the vicinity of the new centres will be taken into consideration. 

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Heart of the Matter Podcast: Is Singapore's anti-drug messaging resonating with our young?

There’s been a worrying rise in the number of young people arrested for drug abuse, says the Central Narcotics Bureau. How should anti-drug messaging be tailored better to suit a generation that’s consuming a largely social media diet? 

Otelli Edwards finds out from Dr Lambert Low, deputy chief of the department of addiction medicine in the Institute of Mental Health, Ravindran Nagalingam, board member at the National Council Against Drug Abuse and Tham Yuen Han, clinical director at WE CARE Community Services.

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Zoo breeds first black swan chicks

Zoo breeds first black swan chicks
One of the three black swans chicks born earlier this month at Khon Kaen Zoo. The cygnets are under a close observation of a veterinarian team and will be available for public display soon. (Photo: Khon Kaen Zoo)

Khon Kaen Zoo has, for the first time, succeeded in breeding black swans, with three cygnets born recently.

According to Thipawadee Kittikhun, the zoo’s acting director-general, a seven-year-old swan laid three eggs in December, which hatched on Feb 9–10.

The cygnets are now under the supervision of veterinarians, and their health is monitored closely. They are fed with minced vegetables mixed with swamp algae, which is high in protein and necessary minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, for strengthening bones, said Ms Thipawadee.

Black swans, which have a red bill, are common in the wetlands of southwestern and eastern Australia. They reach breeding age when they are about two years old.

The parents of the three cygnets were transferred from a regional private zoo to their Khon Kaen home in 2020. Their cygnets are set to be moved to a bigger aviary soon, Ms Thipawadee said.

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Thaksin parole was 'perfectly legal'

Thaksin parole was 'perfectly legal'
Supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and reporters are seen in front of the Shinawatra family’s Ban Chan Song La residence in Bangkok’s Bang Phlat district on Sunday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong said the parole recently granted to convicted former prime minister Thaskin Shinawatra — who did not spend a single night in jail after his return to Thailand late last year — was in line with legal criteria.

He was responding to Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, a Move Forward Party (MFP) MP for Bangkok, who raised the issue at a parliamentary meeting on Thursday.

Mr Nattacha asked the justice minister how Thaksin met the criteria for parole under the Corrections Act or regulations issued by the Department of Corrections (DoC).

Citing a DoC regulation, he said inmates who are eligible for parole must be seriously ill or older than 70 and cannot take care of themselves adequately.

They must depend on others for daily activities like eating, bathing, dressing and moving around, and be unable to control their bowel movements, Mr Nattacha said.

“How does Thaksin fit this condition?” he asked, adding he wanted to know the names of the two doctors who confirmed Thaksin had been seriously ill yet recovered within 180 days.

Col Pol Tawee said the National Health Act protects the confidentiality of people’s health-related data, meaning it cannot be revealed to others without their consent.

“The doctors who diagnosed Thaksin’s conditions are from the Police General Hospital [where he was detained]. His parole was in line with the law and related regulations and doctors’ criteria,” he said.

The opposition Democrat Party said it would not raise the issue at the next censure debate because it is not related to the government’s performance.

Deputy leader Chaichana Detdecho said key economic issues, including the lack of progress in the much-hyped digital wallet scheme, are much more relevant.

“Thaksin has returned home and been reunited with his family. The issue has come to an end. The concern now is the justice system. The public wonders if there are double standards. I would like to ask the director-general of the Department of Corrections to give a clear answer,” he said.

Mr Chaichana said the party expected a censure debate to take place before the end of the House session in April.

The Democrats intend to discuss the digital wallet scheme and the government’s policies to raise the minimum daily wage and salaries of graduates. The government has not implemented these policies yet, he said.

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Women and stroke: Why females have a harder time recovering and how having a community may be the best rehab

Although she has limited mobility on her left fingers, she heads to the Active SG gym there for fitness and found the equipment inclusive for individuals with disabilities. “It allows me to stay fit without fearing whether the equipment is suitable for me.

“This experience has shown me a different side of humanity. I now learned the importance of understanding and listening to my body. Now, I prioritise self-care and pay attention to my body’s signals.”

SUZILAWATI BINTE MOHAMED RAIS, 51

In October 2018, after suffering from headaches for two weeks, Suzilawati lost feeling in her left side – face, arm and leg. She also felt dizziness and sudden confusion.

Suzilawati was diagnosed with right corona radiata infarct or what is known as “white matter stroke”. The corona radiata carries much of the brain’s neural traffic. So strokes like this can affect loss of sensation on one side of the body and affect muscle coordination and control. In some cases, it can cause paralysis on the affected side.

Suzilawati found the emotional and mental challenges more taxing than the physical ones. “I wanted to go back to work. So a disability like mine where my left side of the body is affected, my movement is slowed down and it can be daunting.

“To get back to work, I needed to be mentally strong and also be patient as I needed to do things at a slower pace.”

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Government urged to subsidise Bangkok transport

Users say system is costly, inconvenient

Government urged to subsidise Bangkok transport
The government is urged to consider subsidising all forms of public transportation in Bangkok to reduce travel costs for commuters in the city. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The government must consider subsidising all forms of public transportation in Bangkok to reduce travel costs for commuters in the city, a forum was told.

About 100 people, including residents, on Thursday attended a forum organised by the House committee on consumer protection, Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) and the Foundation for Consumers. It aimed to garner consumer opinion on Bangkok’s public transport and how systems can improve.

There, residents of Bangkok and its surrounding suburbs said commuting in the capital using public transportation can be inconvenient.

Bhuntin Noumjerm, Move Forward Party MP for Bangkok and spokesman of the committee, said the quality of transport services in the city is rated as poor while fares are high.

He said the government should consider subsidising all forms of transportation in the capital, not only electric rail systems, which are now seen as the main mode of transportation.

Commuters also lack good, affordable transport services from the back roads and alleyways of where they live to connect to electric train stations, he said.

He said these opinions will be compiled and forwarded to the House of Representatives for consideration during the next deliberation of bills on public transport for communities.

Aphisit Mantri, the administrator of the Rotmaethai (Thai public buses) Facebook page, said the most common difficulty faced by commuters is insufficient operating vehicles, especially at night. This can cause long waiting times, he said.

There have also been passenger complaints about confusing changes to the numbering of some bus routes, he said.

Most commuters thought it didn’t make sense why the authorities changed a numbering system that was familiar to everyone, he said.

Khongsak Chuenkrailat, an assistant secretary to the TCC’s sub-committee on transport, said it is important to ensure that fares are affordable for all.

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Govt urged to subsidise transport

Users say system is costly, inconvenient

Govt urged to subsidise transport
The government is urged to consider subsidising all forms of public transportation in Bangkok to reduce travel costs for commuters in the city. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The government must consider subsidising all forms of public transportation in Bangkok to reduce travel costs for commuters in the city, a forum was told.

About 100 people, including residents, on Thursday attended a forum organised by the House committee on consumer protection, Thailand Consumers Council (TCC) and the Foundation for Consumers. It aimed to garner consumer opinion on Bangkok’s public transport and how systems can improve.

There, residents of Bangkok and its surrounding suburbs said commuting in the capital using public transportation can be inconvenient.

Bhuntin Noumjerm, Move Forward Party MP for Bangkok and spokesman of the committee, said the quality of transport services in the city is rated as poor while fares are high.

He said the government should consider subsidising all forms of transportation in the capital, not only electric rail systems, which are now seen as the main mode of transportation.

Commuters also lack good, affordable transport services from the back roads and alleyways of where they live to connect to electric train stations, he said.

He said these opinions will be compiled and forwarded to the House of Representatives for consideration during the next deliberation of bills on public transport for communities.

Aphisit Mantri, the administrator of the Rotmaethai (Thai public buses) Facebook page, said the most common difficulty faced by commuters is insufficient operating vehicles, especially at night. This can cause long waiting times, he said.

There have also been passenger complaints about confusing changes to the numbering of some bus routes, he said.

Most commuters thought it didn’t make sense why the authorities changed a numbering system that was familiar to everyone, he said.

Khongsak Chuenkrailat, an assistant secretary to the TCC’s sub-committee on transport, said it is important to ensure that fares are affordable for all.

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'Big Joke' denies online gambling ties

'Big Joke' denies online gambling ties
Surachate: No charges yet

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn on Thursday denied any involvement with online gambling networks, before pointing out that no charges have been pressed against him so far.

Responding to rumours circulating early this week, Pol Gen Surachate said no charges have been laid against him since the highly publicised search of his house last year.

Only the cases against eight other individuals, which included some of his subordinates, were forwarded to prosecutors, he said.

When asked to clarify claims of an ongoing investigation targeting him and four other individuals by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Pol Gen Surachate said while the anti-graft agency has indeed received a complaint, it has yet to initiate any proceedings against those named in the report.

If the NACC decides to accept the case, it would still have to launch an inquiry to determine if it would press charges, he said.

On Wednesday, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, announced at a press conference that Pol Gen Surachate and four others were being investigated and could face multiple charges in connection to the online gambling network operated by Suchanun Sucharitchinsri, also known as “Minnie”.

The charges include malfeasance and accepting bribes, which violate sections 157 and 149 of the Criminal Code.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat said the investigation is being handled by the NACC because it involves high-level police officers. However, he believed the police should be involved because of the large number of suspects, at 61.

Pol Gen Surachate, meanwhile, blasted the call for the NACC to refer the investigation to the police.

“Who are you to pressure the NACC? This is clearly overstepping the mark,” Pol Gen Surachate said.

Pol Gen Surachate also said he was not in charge of suppressing online gambling websites, so he did not have anything to do with their illegal operations, including accepting kickbacks.

He added that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) would be called to step in if the total amount of assets suspected to have been laundered exceeds 300 million baht.

Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat insisted on Thursday police were not pressuring the NACC to hand over the investigation. However, he believed the investigation would be more swift if it was handled by the police because they had already worked on a related case, he noted.

When asked about progress in the probe into financial transactions involved in the gambling network, the CIB deputy chief said investigators have evidence to substantiate the allegations against the suspects.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Thursday Pol Gen Surachate is innocent until proven otherwise and he must be given a chance to defend himself.

The prime minister declined to comment when asked if the issue was a ploy to discredit the deputy police chief and undermine his chance of being appointed police chief.

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