Singapore could face a shortage of nurses as the Philippines suspends nurse permits

The Philippines is suspending the permits for nurses who want to work overseas with immediate effect.

A cutting off of its supply could impact Singapore, where foreign nationals make up about one-third of the nursing workforce, The Straits Times reported.

Annual deployment limit reached

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said the annual deployment limit of 5,000 healthcare workers has been reached, and it has suspended issuing employment certificates to work overseas.

The decision by the Philippines affects nurses, as well as nursing aides and assistants.

About 7,600 nurses from the Philippines working in Singapore

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said there are about 7,600 employees in its nursing workforce from the Philippines, as at end 2019.

Data from the Singapore Nursing Board 2019 annual report showed that Filipino nurses formed the largest pool of foreign nurses here.

“MOH will continue to assess the situation and ensure that our nursing workforce is able to meet our healthcare needs,” said a MOH spokesperson.

New nurses from overseas can continue to help Singapore beef up its workforce, as well as provide relief for those in the healthcare sector, who have been coping with a difficult past 1.5 years due to Covid-19.

42,000 nurses in Singapore

Nurses from the Philippines make up 29 per cent of the enrolled nurse workforce and 15 per cent of all registered nurses, who have higher qualifications, here.

In 2019, Singapore had 34,609 registered nurses and 8,059 enrolled nurses that year.

The ministry added that the proportion of foreign nationals held steady at around a third of the overall workforce, despite the nursing workforce growing from 36,000 in 2013 to 42,000 in 2019.

In March this year, Singapore said it would raise the salaries of nurses and other healthcare workers in the public healthcare sector by 3 to 14 per cent from July.

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