Sunday 21 October 2012

3,500 ILTC staff to get government-funded pay rise

By Vimita Mohandas, Channel NewsAsia, 19 Oct 2012

More than 3,500 healthcare support staff from the Intermediate and Long Term Care sector (ILTC) are getting a pay hike of between 10 and 24 per cent.

They include administrative, ancillary and support care staff in the Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) who make up more than half the manpower in this sector.

The funding support was provided by the Health Ministry and kicked in last month.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, made the announcement at the Health Manpower Development Programme Awards.

Nur Ashilah has been working as a Patient Service Assistant in Ren Ci Hospital for two-and-a-half years.

While her job is rewarding, it does pose challenges as well.

She views the pay hike to her as a recognition of her hard work.

"I'm so excited and happy that at least we will be given this increment by the government. It looks like the salary is actually as attractive as restructured hospitals," she said.

As salaries of staff in the Intermediate and Long Term Care sector have traditionally lagged behind those in public hospitals, VWOs said this move is timely.

Loh Shu Ching, CEO of Ren Ci Hospital, said: "This inflow by MOH is something new and would allow us to definitely catch up with restructured hospitals and with the rest of the sector, and make us again more attractive. This would make us a lot more competitive in terms of attracting people but we have a long way to go."

Samuel Liang, CEO of All Saints Home, said: "We feel this is definitely an encouragement and an incentive to help us do the manpower planning, make it easier for us to hire people of higher quality. At the same time we are able to retain them and more important thing is to grow their career path."

Besides pay, the Health Ministry said it's important to support the sector on the productivity front.

Dr Amy Khor said: "In addition to looking at paying them competitive salaries which we will monitor regularly to ensure that they remain competitive, we also need to continue to optimise manpower use and boost productivity in this sector because over the longer term, salary increases can only be sustainable if it's accompanied with productivity improvements in the sector."

Recruiting healthcare professionals remains a priority for the government as Singapore ramps up the number of aged care facilities. So to draw more into this sector, the Health Ministry launched the Intermediate and Long Term Care Upgrading Programme to create an avenue for these healthcare professionals to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

The ILTC-UP supports healthcare professionals such as nurses and allied health professionals in the ILTC sector to expand their knowledge base and contribute back in their workplaces.

Application for the scholarship opened in July this year and to date, 10 healthcare professionals have been awarded the scholarship. They will be funded at up to 90 per cent of the tuition and compulsory fees with the remaining 10 per cent to be co-funded by their employers. This initiative falls under the Healthcare Productivity Fund and is funded by the Health Ministry and administered by the Agency for Integrated Care.

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