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Filipino nurses across the globe are anticipating the change. We assumed we could finally rest our thought that we don’t have to go abroad to get a decent working condition. We anticipated that we could be reunited with our families working abroad as nurses. We presumed that there’s a better hope for our profession in this country, that we could serve our fellowmen without compromising the needs of our family, that we could care for the Filipino people without being exploited and give our services for free. The Nursing Comprehensive Law, will protect the interest of nurses and expand the scope of nursing practice. We thought it’s finally happening until… the President destroyed all our hopes.

3 Reasons why PNoy vetoed

1. Approving the law will place the salaries of nurses over and above their other similarly situated counterparts, such as optometrists and dentists.

According to the news released by both GMA news online last June 16, such preferential treatment in favor of nurses over and above other health professionals and professionals in the government service appears unconscionable and violative of the equal protection clause enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.

Coloma further explained that the president’s decision was reasonable in his interview with GMA new online. It is not justifiable to raise the wage of the nurses (translation from Filipino statement), since government personnel falling under salary grade 15 receive a monthly salary of P24,887.

2. Nurses need experience here in the Philippines, whether you like it or not.

Coloma discussed that nurses are in demand abroad but should have the adequate experience. He is probably pointing out that nurses have no choice but to work here in the Philippines to gain experience for at least 2 years.

3. The government had done measures already to improve the salary of nurses, which is the salary standardization law.

Upon reading this, my heart was broken. It appears to me that the President perceive us as mere nurses, deserving nothing but the current treatment in the healthcare system.

crying-for-justice-nurse

Critical Reasons why PNoy should have approved

The European Union estimated a shortage of 600,000 nurses by 2020 (WHO Europe, 2013). 1.1 million nurses are also needed in U.S by 2020 caused by 20% increase in new positions and one-third of current nurses retiring (American Nurses Association). Moreover, Health Workforce Australia predicts a workforce gap by 2025 of between 80,000 and 147,000 nurses.

These facts above give us more reasons why we should value our nurses more than ever. Here are few of the list why the president should support the Nursing Comprehensive Law:

1. To prevent the impending doom of nurse shortage in the Philippines

I believe that the veto of the Nursing Comprehensive Law will push more Filipino nurses to look for greener pastures abroad, recognizing the great demand of the profession. The only sad thing is, who will remain in our country? Who will care for our families when they get sick?

Isn’t it ironic how the Philippines produce millions of competent nurses yet our hospitals lack nursing staff? Is government too blind not see the failures of the health system? Or they chose not to see because they have other personal interests and other priorities?

Lorenzo et al. (2005) suggests that nurse migration in the Philippines depleted the pool of skilled and experienced health workers thus compromising the quality of care in the healthcare system. One concern among health services managers is that the loss of more senior nurses requires a continual investment in the training of staff replacements and negatively affects the quality of care. Human resources also become more expensive.

Shortages have led to a failure to meet accreditation standards, which in turn hinders reimbursement and eventually brings a financial crisis. Nurse to patient ratios in provincial and district hospitals are now one nurse to between 40 and 60 patients, which is a striking deterioration from the ratios of one nurse to between 15 and 20 patients that prevailed in the 1990s .

I know how important the economic benefit of remittances from the OFWs working abroad. I do believe that encouraging Filipino nurses to have international experience in health-care is essential. But not to the point that nurses are left with no choice but to leave the country. I hope someday, working abroad is not a necessity but an option.

2. To assist economic development

Health has a negative impact on economic development. WHO emphasizes that better health makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. If the government will invest in quality health-care, the country’s economy will benefit the most. By employing nurses in schools, communities, and other sectors, our country can further improve health promotion and advocacy.

3. To promote accessible primary health care

By expanding the scope of nursing practice, our country will be able to achieve accessible primary health care: in every barangay, in every workplace, and even in our schools. The nursing law will also provide scholarships and free training to nurses who want to broaden their nursing career.

4. To thwart nurse exploitation and promote safe environment for every Filipino patient

This law will protect the nurses from contractual, job offer, paid training, and volunteer nurses. This will also defend the nurses from understaffing. According to a paper released by UCLA School of Public Health, patient’s mortality risk rises when nurses are understaffed. Carayon & Gurses (2008) also supports that a heavy nursing workload adversely affects patient safety.

5. Nurses will be able to provide basic commodities for their families.

Most nurses here in the Philippines usually rely on their family for financial sustenance. It’s about time that we should give nurses the right for financial freedom, not only for their benefit but for our economic improvement as well. Research has shown that raising the minimum wage boosts consumer spending, increasing the demand that drives economic growth.

nurse-justice-for-president-duterte

In conclusion, our country needs to appreciate the value of our nurses. Several countries are offering job opportunities to every Filipino nurse. As the world’s demand for nurses continue to grow, our own health-care forces are becoming more depleted. Shall we wait for the time when there’s no one left in the hospital?

References:

  • Alvarez (2016, June 16). Aquino gives pay hike for nurses the thumbs down. GMA news online. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/570183/news/nation/aquino-gives-pay-hike-for-nurses-the-thumbs-down
  • Carayon P, Gurses AP. Nursing Workload and Patient Safety—A Human Factors Engineering Perspective. In: Hughes RG, editor. Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2008 Apr. Chapter 30. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2657/
  • Galvez Tan J. “The Challenge of Managing Migration, Retention and Return of Health Professionals” 2005. Powerpoint Presentation at the Academy for Health Conference, New York
  • Huynen, M. M.T.E., Martens, P. and Hilderink, H.B.M. (2005). The health impacts of globalization: a conceptual framework Globalization and Health 2005, 1:14. Retrieved from http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/pdf/1744-8603-1-14.pdf
  • Lorenzo FM, Dela FRJ, Paraso GR, Villegas S, Isaac C, Yabes J, Trinidad F, Fernando G, Atienza J. (2005). “Migration of Health Workers: Country Case Study” The Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, National Institute of Health
  • Murphy, K. (2012). Nursing shortage crisis looming. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nursing-shortage-crisis-looming-20120327-1vwl6.html#ixzz4C5LUm8Lv
  • NELP (n.d) Minimum Wage as Economic Stimulus. Retrieved from http://raisetheminimumwage.org/pages/stimulus
  • Sun Star (2016, June 17). Aquino veto seen to spark more brain drain among PH nurses. Retrieved from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2016/06/17/aquino-veto-seen-spark-more-brain-drain-among-ph-nurses-479988
  • UCLA School of Public Health (2011). Nurse Understaffing Linked to Increased Risk of Patient Mortality. Retrieved from http://ph.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/downloads/magazine/sph.june11.research.pdf
  • WHO Europe (2013). Nursing shortage high on the agenda in the Republic of Moldova. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Health-systems/health-workforce/news/news/2013/03/nursing-shortage-high-on-the-agenda-in-the-republic-of-moldova
  • WHO (n.d) Health and development. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hdp/en/
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Rina Malones is currently working as a critical care/acute stroke nurse. Besides from blogging, she's also studying International Health at University of the Philippines Open University.