THE nurses' comments in last Saturday's article ("Some nurses find work 'too hectic'") highlight the most important issue facing public hospitals today - inadequate manpower to ensure work-life balance.

I am sure this problem is faced by not only nurses but also doctors.

The current solution seems to be to pay staff more, but this is not the answer.

If our teaching institutions cannot produce enough medical staff to ease the manpower crunch, more foreign help would have to be recruited.

The alternative is to hire more nurses' aides or health-care assistants, who can be trained in a shorter time and can help ease the nurses' workload by assisting with tasks that do not require professional nursing expertise.

Providing reasonably priced accommodation close to the hospitals could be one way to retain foreign staff.

The manpower crunch will not get any better soon, and harried medical staff cannot operate at their best.

Public hospitals should not wait until there is a full-blown crisis caused by an exodus of staff before they act.

How do we gauge the the right ratio of nurses and doctors to patients in public hospitals? The private sector seems to have the answer to that.