DPM Heng Swee Keat at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and National Centre For Infectious Diseases Nurses' Day Virtual Celebration 2020

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 1 August 2020

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and National Centre For Infectious Diseases (NCID) Nurses' Day Virtual Celebration 2020.


Let me wish all our nurses at TTSH and NCID, happy Nurses’ Day!

This year, we mark Nurses’ Day very differently. COVID-19 has disrupted many lives and livelihoods, and has fundamentally changed the way we live. This special day has taken on extra significance this year, because you have made all the difference in our battle against the virus.

Since we had our first confirmed case six months ago, all of you have been working tirelessly on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19. Especially at NCID, which is at the centre of our pandemic response. When we had our first case, all of you had to make significant adjustments – to your work processes and your daily routines – to keep your patients safe. Some of you at TTSH were deployed to NCID, to help manage the higher patient load and the high number of community cases. When we had large clusters at our migrant worker dormitories, a number of you volunteered for swab operations and to take care of those who tested positive.

Together with others on the frontline, you held your posts – and even going beyond the call of duty – to keep the community and your patients safe. We have kept fatalities very low, at less than 0.1%. New community cases have been kept largely to single digits. The situation in our dorms is under control. And we are on track to clear all the dorms by early August. Our healthcare system has not been overwhelmed and we are gradually resuming consultations and elective procedures. Looking back, you have helped to make a seemingly impossible situation possible.

The theme for this year’s Nurses’ Day is “I’Mpossible". You have made the impossible possible! You are able to do this because of your heart for patients and your commitment to serve everyone.

Indeed, unity has been a defining feature of our society throughout this crisis. By staying together, and with each one of us playing our part, we can overcome this crisis. By pulling together our collective wits and will, we can navigate the profound uncertainties ahead, plan for the future, and emerge stronger. By standing together in unity with your fellow healthcare and frontline workers. You have shown great dedication. Many of you have to make personal sacrifices and adjustments in your daily routines. You worked as a team to manage the high workload and risks, and to change as the COVID situation changes. And doing all these, while still managing regular care and preparing for the launch of the Next Generation Electronic Medical Records (NGEMR). As you stood in unity with one another, I am glad that many Singaporeans also stood in solidarity with you. Through the many expressions of support and acts of generosity. But these gestures cannot fully describe our gratitude and appreciation of your contributions.

The relationship between you and your patient is critical. The rapid advancement of medical technology has improved patient outcomes and the quality of care. But nothing can replace your genuine care for your patients, and your warmth and concern. My family and I experienced this when I was warded at TTSH for six weeks in 2016. Your encouragement and support was a big factor in my recovery!

Not only do you care for your patients with heart and sincerity, you also continue to give back to the community you serve during the crisis. I look forward to the recreation of this year’s Nurses’ Day logo using recycled ring tabs from drink cans, which I hope will make the Singapore Book of Records. I learnt that you had collected 12 full boxes of ring tabs since the project began in March, and that the ring tabs will eventually be recycled to make a wheelchair for a community partner. This is a very meaningful project, and is one of many that you have undertaken to serve the community.

2020 has been designated the “Year of the Nurse” by the World Health Organisation. It has turned out to be a very challenging year - for the nursing profession, for the healthcare community, and for the world. Nursing is more than a job. It is a calling with a deep purpose. I am glad that you have answered the call of duty. You have risen to the challenge and you have made your profession proud.

Thank you once again for your sacrifices, care and dedication. The fight against COVID will be long and full of uncertainty. As you face the challenges ahead, I hope that you will continue to hold on to that sense of purpose that first drew you to nursing. I am confident that with your full commitment, we can make anything possible. 

Happy Nurses’ Day!