The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said they are not surprised by the disclosure of Department of Health (DOH) Officer-In-Charge Rosario Vergeire that the country’s health system needs 106,000 more nurses.
“What she failed to mention, however, are the reasons why many nurses opt not to practice the profession, a choice due to the starvation wages and the inhumane and unsafe work conditions they are forced to bear,” Eleanor Nolasco, FNU vice president, and Jocelyn Andamo, FNU secretary-general, in a statement, said.
Per DOH data, as of December 2021, there are a total of 617,898 practicing registered nurses, of which 172,589 are employed in private and public health facilities, while 124,999 are in unspecified practice, they said.
The latter constitutes 20 percent of the country’s nursing resources who have likely chosen to work elsewhere instead of practice nursing because of the low pay and precarious work conditions. DOH data also showed 316,405 registered nurses or 51.3 percent as having migrated abroad presumably for the more lucrative offers of higher pay and better incentives.
The 2-year pandemic also highlighted the nurses’ sad plight that has been met by continued callousness and even insults by the past administration.
The nurses’ vulnerability to COVID-19 infection increased manifold due to the inhumane work conditions of extended unpaid duty hours of 12 to 24 hours and heavy patient and workload that weighed down nurses’ physical health but their mental health as well, they said.
A widespread and notorious labor practice in the nursing profession is contractualization that comes in many forms like job order, contract of service, essentially depriving nurses security of tenure.
Health care being devolved, many locally employed nurses under LGUs (local government units), are contractuals. In most LGU hospitals (district, city and provincial), 70-80 percent nurses are contractuals who perform the same functions as those permanently employed.