Overworked, underpaid nurses
We are writing this letter to voice out the sentiments of Filipino nurses especially in light of President Duterte’s lightning action to increase the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel and the military.
The nursing profession faces a huge dilemma. Despite the great need for nurses in the Philippines, there’s widespread unemployment, and many have no other choice but to go abroad.
Around 7 of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a health professional because of poverty. Thousands still die of highly preventable and curable diseases.
We can no longer deny the strong demand for nurses to serve the country, yet more than 300,000 remain unemployed, and around 250,000 are underemployed or misemployed. Most nurses in hospitals and communities are contractuals and have no security of tenure. Nurse wages at P250-P350 a day cannot even sustain decent family living.
The phrase “overworked and underpaid” has become synonymous to the nursing profession. The nurse-patient ratio in hospitals remains high at 1:50 up to 1:80. Nurses are exposed to verbal and physical abuse in addition to disease.
The Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016 implemented by the Professional Regulation Commission has become an added burden, a cross to carry and bear, where nurses have to shell out from P30,000 to P50,000 to acquire CPD units and renew their licenses.
Under this situation, many nurses are forced to go abroad to finance the needs of their families and loved ones in the Philippines. In fact, around 19,000 nurses leave the country every year to work abroad.
This has to change! We in the #LabanNurses Movement fight for the following:
1) Pass House Bill 2548 providing for a comprehensive nursing law.
2) Repeal the Continuing Professional Development Act and pass a law that will ensure a free, relevant, accessible, and nonmandatory CPD.
3) Ensure decent work with decent wages.
4) Pass a law protecting health workers. This will ensure a higher penalty to those
who will abuse and hurt nurses and health workers performing their work.
5) Regularize contractual nurses and give plantilla positions to those under the nurses deployment program of the Department of Health.
6) Increase the starting salary of nurses to P30,000 for both private and public sectors, to encourage them to stay and serve Filipinos in need.
7) Strict compliance to a safe nurse-patient ratio of 1:12 (DOH standards) must be ensured. Open job opportunities for nurses.
We hope that the Duterte administration realizes the unique and important role that nurses play in nation-building and in the provision of health-care for the people.
Nurses, unite! Struggle for a cause! Join the movement on Feb. 14, 2018. Let us gather in front of the PRC at 7:30 a.m. We will march toward Mendiola at 8 a.m. with health rights advocates from the Alliance of Health Workers.
SEAN HERBERT VELCHEZ, RN, convenor, #LabanNurses Movement, email@example.com
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