Speech by Dr Lam Pin Min, Minister of State, Ministry of Health, at the Institute of Mental Health Nurses' Day Celebrations, 21 July 2015

Adjunct Associate Professor Daniel Fung
Chairman, Medical Board of IMH

Mr Lim Hock Leng
Chief Operating Officer of IMH

Ms Samantha Ong
Chief Nurse of IMH

Distinguished guests, IMH Nurses, ladies and gentlemen,

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here to celebrate Nurses Day with IMH nurses. I have visited IMH previously and have seen the work that you do, and I know that you are a special group of nurses.

2. Mental illness causes significant pain and suffering, not just for the person afflicted, but also for family members and other caregivers. It can be very difficult to look after someone with mental illness as they may present with challenging behaviour and sometimes resist treatment or help.

3. The Singapore Mental Health Study 2010 found that one in 10 adults in Singapore suffer from a mental health disorder. At IMH itself, I understand that your hospital looks after a pool of some 38,000 outpatients and about 1,700 inpatients. It is clear from these statistics that a well-trained and committed team of healthcare workers, including nurses, are required to treat and support these persons.

4. Hence I am glad for this opportunity to celebrate the hardworking, compassionate and resilient team of nurses at IMH. I would especially like to congratulate all the award winners today for your immeasurable contributions to patient care.

5. Our government has been building more general and community hospitals and polyclinics to anticipate the needs of an ageing population. The demand for nurses has increased in tandem. The National Nursing Taskforce has introduced recommendations on improving Career development, Autonomy, Recognition and Education for nurses or CARE for short. To better recognise the complexity of the nurses’ jobs, the Ministry had increased their monthly base salaries by 3 to 10% in 2014 and will do so again in October 2015. We also introduced an annual ‘Nurse Special Payment’ from Year 2014 onwards.

6. We have also made good progress in recent years to raise the profile of the nursing profession and grow the healthcare professional workforce. Since early 2013, we launched the “Care to Go Beyond” campaign, to increase the public’s awareness of the diverse and fulfilling work that nurses do, to attract more people to join the profession. You may have noticed the heartwarming commercial that has been airing on television since early July, about a little girl aspiring to be a nurse like her mother. We have also launched this in cinemas, as well as a print advertisement on the Nursing career in end June. The refreshed campaign will be ongoing till March 2016. We hope that with these efforts, more will join the profession and stay on to contribute to public healthcare.

7. Psychiatric nursing requires a unique set of skills. Apart from using medication to treat their patients, psychiatric nurses have a wonderful therapeutic rapport with their patients, supporting them emotionally and relationally, encouraging and aiding them in their journey to recovery.

8. I was touched to read about IMH Senior Assistant Nurse Mr Aliff Adnan, one of the 10 enrolled nurses who received the Tan Chin Tuan Nursing Award in Nov last year. Mr Aliff treats every activity and communication with the patients as therapy and perseveres in caring for even hostile patients until they warm up to him and to treatment.

9. It’s also good to know that besides the human touch, IMH nurses are actively harnessing and adopting technology in their work. I was told IMH was among the first hospitals in Singapore to use iPads instead of computers to support medication administration.

10. I would also like to commend IMH nurses for continually training and upgrading their skills to better serve their patients. They also continually evaluate and develop nursing care models to improve care to patients. I am impressed with your Safety Nurse initiative, which assigns nurses as dedicated safety officers to monitor high-risk patients in the ward. I was told that incidents were reduced by more than half in the pilot ward within six months and that all wards now have Safety Nurses.

11. Besides taking care of patients, I am glad that IMH nurses find time to conduct research and teach the next generation of nurses. I understand some 2,000 nursing students from NUS, the polytechnics and ITE come through IMH each year for their nursing attachments. These are opportunities to not only impart nursing skills, but shape young minds to have compassion for the less privileged. And what better place than to see IMH nurses at work, especially those of you who have dedicated decades of your life serving IMH patients.

12. I hope that you will continue to grow professionally and will find satisfaction in touching the lives and healing the hearts of the mentally ill in Singapore. Congratulations and keep up the good work. I wish all IMH Nurses Happy Nurses Day 2015!


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