International Nurses Day: Better wages sought

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
International Nurses Day: Better wages sought
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 — A nurse’s group is calling attention to the worsening state of nurses, who are overworked and underpaid, as International Nurses Day is commemorated today.

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said nurses in the Philippines continue to suffer from very low wages amid the increasing cost of living, including the rise in prices of basic commodities and services.

Eleanor Nolasco, FNU president, has said that aside from receiving a low salary, the 1:20 – or one nurse to 20 patients – ratio in the country persists.

“In other hospitals, understaffing is very much felt with the one (nurse) is to 30 or even 40 (patients) ratio, depending on the number of hospital personnel,” Nolasco said in an interview.

She added, “Because of the lack of nurses, they work for 16 hours instead of the usual eight hours.”

Nolasco said that what should be observed in hospitals is the safe ratio of 1:8 – one nurse to eight patients.

The FNU said this dismal nurse work situation was addressed by the national government with the hiring of 300 unlicensed nurses and revision of the nursing education curriculum and masteral program.

“This is a mismatch and irrational solution to the nursing issues of understaffing, low wages and poor working conditions that discourage nurses to stay,” said Nolasco.

The group said this kind of situation pushes nurses further to massive migration, given the attractive offers abroad of nursing education scholarships with guaranteed employment, including bringing their families with them.

“There is apparent inadequate government support and lack of prioritization as to public health service budget allocation that incapacitates nurses in performing their tasks or leads to inadequacies of the health care system, thus not being able respond to the Filipinos’ health needs,” stressed Nolasco.

To commemorate International Nurses Day, Nolasco said nurses in hospitals, communities, schools and other settings all over the country will put up placards indicating their calls regarding salary increase, regularization and decent working conditions in their respective work areas.

“It is high time that concerned government authorities respond with concrete and decisive measures that will rescue nurses from the serious concerns, such as the legislation of just, decent wage increase, mass hiring of qualified nurses and regularize contractual nurses to fill up and add to more plantilla positions,” she added.

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