Hire more and pay better, nurses say after woes brought up at presidential debate

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Hire more and pay better, nurses say after woes brought up at presidential debate
Medical workers screen patients for possible COVID-19 before admission at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City on April 18, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — An organization of nurses called on presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the May elections to raise their salaries and to push for a safe nurse-to-patient ratio to better protect the rights and welfare of medical frontliners.

The Filipino Nurses United made the call Monday after several aspirants who attended the presidential debate hosted by CNN Philippines on Sunday shared their plans to keep underpaid and overworked nurses at home if elected.

"The Filipino Nurses United wants genuine change in the health care delivery system so that the work and life conditions of nurses in our country will be improved," FNU President Maristela Abenojar told Philstar.com.

FNU said the next leaders of the country should increase the entry salary of both public and private nurses to P50,000.

Entry-level nurses in public hospitals are entitled to a salaries of from P32,053 to P34,801 per month, in line with a Supreme Court ruling. The current entry-level pay of nurses in the private sector, meanwhile, is P11,814 a month, according to Abenojar.

They must also enact a law that will end the contractualization of nurses and implement a safe nurse-to-patient ratio in hospitals. For FNU, the ratio should be one nurse to eight patients in regular wards, one nurse to one patient in critical units and one nurse to two to three patients in emergency wards.

The nurses’ organization also called on the nation’s next leaders to push for a magna carta for private health workers, amend the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers and enact a "comprehensive and progressive" Philippine Nursing Law that will replace the current measure.

Abenojar stressed there is a need to upgrade the benefits in the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers "according to the current cost of living." She also said that provisions protecting the labor rights and welfare of nurses are not included in the Philippine Nursing Law of 2002.

Protection of community health workers

FNU called on presidential and vice-presidential bets to strengthen public health services by hiring one nurse for every barangay in the Philippines and enact a law that will guarantee the protection of health workers who are serving people in communities.

They also demanded an end to red-tagging, harassment and discrimination of health professionals.

To prioritize the health of Filipinos, the next leaders should allocate at least 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product to health, FNU said. In the midst of national health emergencies like COVID-19 pandemic, 10% of the GDP must be allotted to health.

The nurses’ organization added that the next president and vice president should penalize all government officials involved in graft and corruption and in the anomalous transactions of funds intended for people’s health and welfare.



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