By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan filed on Wednesday a bill seeking to raise the salaries of entry-level government nurses in the country to P30,531 in a bid to discourage them from flocking to higher-paying jobs abroad.
‘’Ultimately, the goal of this measure is to improve the plight of the nursing profession and to promote quality health care for all Filipinos)” Pangilinan said in his Senate Bill 260.
The P30,531-entry level pay for nurses will, however, still be about P10,000 lesser than the P40,000-entry level pay for the country’s uniformed services in the current Duterte administration.
Pangilinan noted that Filipino nurses in the Philippines endure low salaries, long working hours, physical and mental burnout, and high nurse-patient ratio.
He said these factors force them to seek greener pastures and bring their expertise abroad.
“So we have a situation of Filipinos taking care of the health of foreigners while our kababayans hardly ever see a health professional,” he explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 22,000 health professionals leave the Philippines annually to work abroad making the country the biggest world’s largest source of nurses. In the United States alone, almost 50 percent of total foreign nurses are Filipinos.
As health professionals leave the country, the Philippine health system suffers. Of the 70 percent of Filipinos living in rural areas, only 10 percent benefit from the services of medical professionals.
The Pangilinan bill proposes that entry-level nurses working in government institutions receive a salary not lower than Salary Grade 15 (SG-15) or equivalent to P30,531 to improve the lives of the nurses and their families.
He cited Department of Labor and Employment’s Bureau of Local Employment (DOLE-BLE) data which shows that an entry-level registered nurse in the country receives a monthly salary of P8,000 to P13,500.
Nurses in government hospitals receive an average monthly salary of P13,500 while those employed in private hospitals get about P10,000.
To address concern over low compensation and ease the burden of Filipino nurses, Pangilinan’s solution is to provide a comprehensive nursing law toward a quality health care system.
Senate Bill 260 proposes to put in place mechanisms toward relevant nursing practices, just and humane working conditions, and the promotion of professional growth of nurses to enhance their general welfare and commitment to service.