Work In Singapore

Work In Singapore

3rd Jun 2016

Singapore is one of the most modern, forward thinking and remarkable countries in the world, with stunning architecture that looks as if it is out of a sci-fi movie, and a healthcare system to match.


Located at the southernmost tip of Malaysia, Singapore is the world’s only island city state, and enjoys one of the highest average incomes anywhere in the world. This higher than average income is reflected in a healthcare system which is unique to the country.


As with all modern countries the system is split into public and private, but that is where the similarities end. Patients are free to choose the providers they use within the public and private systems, and are also allowed to go into any clinic or hospital, public or privately owned, and ask for a consultation.


This isn’t the biggest difference however, that is in the funding of the care that the patients receive. Unlike many other countries no medical service is provided in Singapore free of charge. A nationalised health insurance scheme called ‘Medisave’ is operated and, under this, employees contribute between 8 and 10% of their salary every month to their account. The savings accumulated in this account can then be used to pay for treatment for the employee and his immediate family.


Patients care is subsidised by the government, but this subsidy is means tested depending on the wealth of the individual. The figure rises from a 50% subsidy for citizens (40% for permanent residents) to 80% (or 70% for permanent residents). Non permanent residents need private insurance and cover, as they don’t receive any subsidy. Often this is provided by a resident’s employers.


This system should ensure that healthcare in the country is never underfunded, but also that everyone has access to services within their financial reach. Whilst evidently different to almost anywhere else in the world, it is hugely effective.


According to Bloomberg it is the world’s most efficient healthcare system, and it is renowned worldwide as one of the most successful. The current doctor to resident ratio is 1:520, impressive in one of the most densely populated areas in the world and, as you would expect, the facilities are the most modern that can be found anywhere on the planet.


The state system is used by approximately 70% of the native population, whilst the continually growing private sector cares for the majority of expats, along with natives who have private health insurance, or those who can afford to pay for the treatment.


If working within one of the most contemporary healthcare sectors in the world is appealing to you, then you will want to know what else Singapore has to offer.


Singapore regularly ranks as one of the most desirable locations for people to move too, with it’s high wages, high class surroundings and impressive standard of life. Located right in the heart of Asia it is the perfect place to live if you want to explore the East.


Kuala Lumpur can be reached by air in just under an hour whilst Indonesia and Thailand are just 2 hours travel away. It is also possible to fly to Darwin, Australia, in just over 4 hours with regular, reasonably priced flights heading to all locations. If exploring Asia is something that appeals to you then Singapore is the perfect hub to do just that.


There’s plenty to do on the island as well however with enormous shopping malls, world class attractions and even some stunning, unspoilt countryside.


Marina Bay is the heart of the city and it is dominated by cutting edge skyscrapers and the Singapore Flyer - a 541 foot ferris wheel that looks over the bay, city and streets used for the Formula 1 circuit.


The skyline of the area is dominated by Marina Bay Sands however, an $8bn, 3 tower structure with a swimming pool and recreation area on the roof. It is an engineering marvel, and its scale can only be appreciated when you see it in real life. Marina Bay Sands is home to a 2,500 room hotel, a 120,000m2 convention centre, a 74,000 m2 mall, a museum, two impressive theatres, seven "celebrity chef" restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, a skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino. It is the swimming pool, which provides unparalleled views over the country, that is the must visit area - assuming you have a head for heights!


Whilst the developed heart of Singapore is dominated by modern buildings a 20 minute journey out of the heart of the city can see you in the green and natural surroundings of Kranji, where there is a farmer’s market, night safari and plenty of tours and walks you can go on to escape from the bustling city lifestyle.


The proximity to the countryside highlights one of the main advantages of living in Singapore - its size. Singapore is just 719km2, making it a similar size to the Spanish island of Menorca and the country of Tonga. Travelling is therefore easy, and it takes under an hour to travel from Tuas in the far west of the country to Changi in the East. You’re also never more than an hour from downtown Singapore, and all it has to offer.


The easiest way to travel in Singapore is by the MRT (Metro). This quick and modern service has an extensive route and is regularly being extended. Buses and taxis are also readily available and well priced. Whilst private car ownership is also an option it is more costly than in most other countries.


If the attractions that Singapore has to offer are appealing to you then it may be time to start looking at job opportunities in the country.


To gain employment you will firstly need to have either American board certification, your CCST or be included in the GMC specialist register with western qualifications. For consultancy roles normally at least 5 years experience is necessary, although occasionally they will accept specialists with less than this depending on other experience they may have, and the needs of the organisation you are applying to join.


The immigration process is managed by the Ministry of Manpower and the work permit that immigrants are awarded will be dependant on their salary and qualifications. Most medical professionals moving to the country will be awarded at least a P2 pass, given to those earning between $3500 and $7000 per month with qualifications, or a P1 for those earning $7000+ per month and with suitable qualifications.


Jobs are opening up all the time, across both expanding sectors, but competition is fierce so if you are considering a move to the country ensure that your CV is as polished as it could be to give you the greatest possible chance of making the move.


Daily life in Singapore is unique. It experiences a tropical weather system so there are no seasons, it’s just warm all year round, with short but heavy bursts of rain and stormy weather. Due to the size of the island and its large population most people live in high rise apartments. These are almost all relatively newly built facilities and accommodation is often set over 2 floors offering as much space as you would find in a house in the UK.


High rise living isn’t for everyone, and the further out of the city centre you move the more likely you are to find standalone houses, the prices will also be more affordable the further from the central business district you move, so if you value space then the towns of Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu Kang maybe the best to consider.


The country's education system is, as you would expect, of an extremely high quality. There are plenty of international schools to choose from, many of which achieve results far greater than those in the UK. The biggest, and perhaps best known, is the United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA) which educates over 4000 children from infancy to sixth form - 20% of whom are British passport holders.


UWCSEA is by far the largest school in the area, but there are plenty more, smaller facilities which teach varying curriculums depending on the student’s home country or religion.


If you have a young family and are considering a move abroad then education can play as big a role as any other factor in deciding whether or not to make the move. Fortunately if a move to Singapore is something that you are considering then you needn’t worry about the educational facilities on offer.


Singapore also boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and a zero tolerance attitude to drug use, so it is one of the safest places to live and work with or without a family.


Of course the main reason that many people elect to take their career abroad is financial. Pay for medical professionals is a big attraction, and most can be better off even with the infamous higher price of living in the country.


In the public sector senior consultants can expect to earn up to S$300,000 (about £150,000) whilst consultants wages normally peak at S$200,000 (£100,000) and associate consultants can expect to earn up to S$150,000 (£75,000).


The wages in the private sector are far more varied, and can rise often towards the S$400,000 mark for senior consultants with experience in sought after hospitals.


Income tax rates in Singapore differ greatly from those in the UK. For non-residents the rate is currently 15% of your gross income - including any further bonuses or payments - or 22% of your net income. This is often less than half of what would be paid in the UK and should all but cover the increased cost of living in Singapore.


It is the cost of living that turns many people off the idea of moving to the country. Alcoholic drinks and private cars are dramatically more expensive as a result of heavy taxation laws than anywhere else, whilst the property market (particularly around the Marina area) is more akin to central London than a British suburb.


Many employers will provide a ‘cost of living adaption’ into their salary package - basically an extra cash incentive to help you deal with the increase in the cost of living in the country. Whilst more luxury items can be expensive, essential food and drink is often considerably cheaper and eating out - particularly in street food markets - is far better value for money than it is in the United Kingdom.


Life in Singapore is truly unique in every way. The healthcare system provides world class care within beautiful facilities in one of the most diverse cultural melting pots in the world. If life in one of the planet’s greatest modern metropolises is appealing to you then register on our website for job alerts, and all the latest news from the area’s healthcare sector.























Singapore Quick Facts


Capital City


Largest Planning Area (town)



English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil

National Anthem

Onward Singapore

Total Area

277.6 Miles2



Population Density

7,697 p/km2



GDP Per Capita



N/A - Republic


Tony Tan

Prime Minister

Lee Hsen Loong


Singapore Dollar

Calling Code




Unemployment Rate


Net Migration

14.05 per 1000 residents

National Animal


National Plant

Vanda Miss Joaquim

National Colours

Red and White


Title: Points scored

Title: Points scored

Title: Points scored

Title: Points scored

Emergency Department Attendance - 369 people per day (average)


Average Waiting Time For Admittance to ward - 2 hours






Main Health Issues in Singapore


Respiratory Issues - Although Singapore itself is not overly polluted, the ‘slash and burn’ agriculture practiced in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia contributes to respiratory issues for locals and migrants from these countries.


Myopia - At least 30% of Primary 1 children in Singapore have issues with their vision, and this number can rise as high as 60% by secondary education. Genetically those of Chinese origin are at a higher risk of Myopia, and the extensive use of modern equipment like video games and mobile phones is increasing these chances further.


Colorectal cancer - The most common type of Cancer in Singapore, around 1500 people per annum are diagnosed with Cancer of the Colon. Around 10% of these diagnosis are due to genetic defects, with the rest being due to lifestyle choices such as smoking tobacco and eating fatty foods.


Diabetes - Currently just under 10% of the population of Singapore have diabetes, with it being most common through the Malay and Indian populations. Recent research suggests that Indians - and other people of South Asian ancestry - are almost 4 times more likely than Europeans to have the condition.


Thalassaemia - A blood condition that is linked heavily with anaemia is the most common genetically transferred health issue in Singapore affecting around 1 in 20 people. Having minor thalassaemia does not cause any symptoms and does not require any treatment. If however a male and female partner are carriers of the same type of thalassaemia, they have a risk of having a baby with a severe form of thalassaemia which would require lifetime treatment.


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