Nurses’ group seeks P50K salary to help stem exodus of healthcare workers

by Sep 5, 2022Featured Article, News

MANILA, Philippines — A nurses’ organization on Monday renewed a call for better work conditions, including a basic salary of P50,000 a month, to encourage healthcare workers to stay in the Philippines.

In a statement, Filipino Nurses United said an entry salary of P50,000 a month for nurses both in private and public health facilities will enable them to “live decently commensurate to their crucial role in health promotion and protection of our fellow Filipinos.”

The organization earlier said that more than 100,000 nurses in the private sector earn P537 per day in Metro Manila and much lower in areas outside the capital region. The minimum wage in the National Capital Region is P570.

The minimum salary of nurses in government-run health institutions is currently at around P35,000. While they have relatively higher pay, they also suffer from work and patient overload.

“Lahat kami sa government at nurses sa private sector ay medyo hirap talaga kaya di niyo kami mapipigilan na umalis ng bansa kasi mas mataas ang ino-offer nila sa amin,” Ivan Paguio, who heads the FNU chapter in government-run San Lazaro Hospital, said in a briefing.

(All of us in the government and nurses in the private sector are really struggling so you can’t stop us from leaving the country because they are offering us a higher pay).

Sources of funds

FNU said there are viable sources of funds to cover the increase in the pay of nurses based on their review of the proposed 2023 national budget. It added there are enough funds to cover the hiring of 42,000 nurses for barangay health centers and 10,000 new nurses for regular employment.

Nolasco said unprogrammed funds can be tapped to fund the proposed salary hike for nurses.

(There are a lot of unprogrammed funds where they can get the money to fund the additional wages of nurses.)

DOH: We support nurses’ calls

In response to the call of nurses, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer-in-charge of the health department, said lawmakers and government agencies such as the DOH and Department of Budget and Management should discuss the topic carefully for the proposed salary increase to be passed into law.

“Whatever support we can give to healthcare workers, whatever benefits are accorded to them that they need, we will support them. Pero there needs to be a budget and it is according to the existing policies and laws of the country,” Vergeire said.

FNU also pushed for the passage of a measure that will replace Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 as it stressed the need for a law that is “responsive and relevant” to their needs.

It likewise urged the government to release all the allowance and benefits to healthcare workers such as the special risk allowance, active hazard duty pay, meals, accommodation and transportation allowance, and the One COVID Allowance.

“Bakit ang ibang bansa binibigyan tayo ng importansya? Bakit dito sa sarili nating bansa hindi tayo mabigyan ng magandang work condition para sa nurses, magdagdag ng salary para hindi na umalis, at makapag-serve nang maayos?”he added.

(Why is it that we are given importance only abroad? Why can’t our own country provide us good working conditions for nurses, increase their salaries so they don’t leave, and will be able to serve people properly?)

Last week, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. vowed to improve the working conditions of nurses in the country and address pay disparity between nurses in government hospitals and those in private health facilities.

“Meron tayong pondo. Kailangan lang ng political will. Maraming beses nang binigyan ng papuri ang mga nurse subalit hindi nito napipigilan ang paglipat nila sa ibang bansa upang maghanap ng mas mabuting buhay at validation ng kanilang kakayahan at serbisyo,” said FNU vice president Eleanor Nolasco.

(We have funds. All it takes is political will. Nurses have been praised many times but it did not stop them from moving to other countries to find a better life and validation of their skills and services.)