JOHOR BARU, May 19 — The Johor state government will soon have a meeting with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to discuss the shortage of between 15,000 and 18,000 nurses in the state, said Health and Unity Committee chairman Ling Tian Soon.
He said among reasons for the shortage was due to a significant number of local nurses, including doctors, who have taken up employment in the health sector in neighbouring Singapore.
"They get better deals (in Singapore). The state government does not have the specific statistics on how many of our nurses and doctors work in Singapore, but the number is growing every year.
"At present, more will find employment in Singapore due to the depreciating Malaysian ringgit.
"However, I believe many nurses still want to serve in our country,” said Ling after officiating the Johor state-level Nurses' Day celebration at the Persada International Convention Centre here.
Ling said that it was understood that one of the main reasons local nurses here find employment in Singapore is due to the higher salary.
He said that the salary that nurses receive is similar to that of a specialist doctor in Malaysia after taking into consideration the currency exchange.
At present, Ling said there are a total of 12,533 nurses in Johor, with 8,777 serving in government hospitals and another 19 with contract status.
He said a total of 3,737 nurses are employed in private hospitals in the state.
Ling said the number of posts for nurses in the state has been filled at 98 per cent rate, but this is still inadequate.
He said this is due to the many health programmes and services that have been increasing, apart from new hospitals that require nurses.
"At present, the current ratio stands at one nurse for 297 patients, compared to the supposed ratio of one nurse for 200 patients.
"In order to overcome the insufficient number of nurses, the meeting with the health minister will discuss the best methods to overcome the problem,” he said.
Ling, who is Yong Peng assemblyman, explained that the suggestions will include giving better benefits to nurses and doctors in an effort to prevent them from going over to Singapore.
"Among the proposals will be to offer university graduates to take up nursing courses before absorbing them in the government’s health services sector in the state," he said, adding that the current need for nurses in the state is not at a critical level, but the shortage needs to be addressed so that the state’s health services will not be affected.