Dr Tracy Carol Ayre, Group Director, Nursing, SingHealth

Prof Fong Kok Yong, Group Director, Medical, SingHealth and Chairman, Medical Board, Singapore General Hospital

Prof Claudia Lai, School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Regional Coordinator of Sigma Theta Tau International – Asia Region

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to join you at this Regional Conference on Integrated Care and the 1st Singapore – Hong Kong Congress on Innovation in Nursing Practice.

2          Many countries are transforming their healthcare delivery to meet the changing needs of their population. In Singapore, changing disease patterns and a fast ageing population compel us to transform our care models to provide more appropriate, more effective and more affordable care for our stakeholders. We need to redesign our care delivery to be person-centric and seamless across different care settings.

3          In tandem, we are ramping up healthcare services across care settings to meet the anticipated increase in demand for services. We are building more acute hospitals, more community hospitals, more polyclinics as well as nursing homes. We will need more and better skilled nurses to join our healthcare workforce, to realise our plans and vision under our national Healthcare 2020 plan.

4          Nurses will be at the centre of our care transformation journey and provide leadership to innovate better ways of delivering care. I am heartened to note that this Congress focuses on nurse leaders in healthcare organisations, the evolution of the roles of nurse leaders, and the development of advanced and specialist practice. Indeed, nurses can take the lead to drive care integration and innovation, in collaboration with key stakeholders and the government.

5          The topics to be discussed during the Congress are timely and in line with the recent recommendations of the National Nursing Taskforce. Formed by healthcare representatives from practice and academic settings, the Taskforce put forward 15 recommendations that are encapsulated in the C.A.R.E. package – Career development, Autonomy, Recognition and Education, to support the growth and development of the nursing profession.

6.         The Ministry of Health has accepted all 15 recommendations and we are committed to providing our nurses with more opportunities for advancement and empowerment at all levels. For instance, we will soon be allowing prescription privileges for Advanced Practice Nurses and Nurse Clinicians to reduce delays in the treatment of patients. Nurse leaders will also be empowered to be at the frontline of care delivery to influence healthcare transformation and to develop their staff to practise at the highest level of their competencies. The creation of the Chief Nurse position – to be aligned with “C” suite holders such as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer in public healthcare institutions – underscores the importance of nursing leadership in driving care transformation.

7          Many Enrolled Nurses too, can realise their career aspirations to become Staff Nurses, to allow them to play bigger roles in clinical decision-making and patient management. Nurses will be supported to innovate and test new care models to make care better, faster and safer. Take the example of the Quality Improvement Project led by Advanced Practice Nurse Rachel Towle and her team from the Singapore General Hospital. The project showed that 70 per cent of patients who received individualised education using a Patient Health Diary had fewer visits to the Emergency Department. Patients and caregivers also reported about 80 per cent increase in satisfaction and appreciation for the individualised care and explanation provided by the care team. I commend our nurses for introducing such innovations in the model of care and in nursing practices, which will help to improve patient outcomes.

8          With these developments, patients can look forward to highly-skilled, high-quality care from our nurses. Nursing in Singapore has made great progress, and I am confident that the next part of the journey will be even more exciting as the profession continues to evolve. In the process, I hope that we will attract the best people to join the nursing profession. And for those who are already practising, they will be supported to realise their fullest potential.

9          In closing, I wish you an enriching conference. I hope that you will forge close partnerships with each other, catch up with old acquaintances and pick up best practices from one another. I am sure you will gain new knowledge and insights to advance nursing management, education and research to improve the lives of the population.

Thank you.