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Health brain drain: Palace not worried

Hundreds of medical professionals have resigned due to meager salary, exhaustion, and the delay in the release of their Bayanihan Law benefits

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The public should not worry about reports that hundreds of health care workers from private hospitals are quitting their jobs to work abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.

Speaking at a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque assured the public that the country has enough board passers and graduates who can fill in the vacancies left by medical professionals.

“There won’t be any changes in our policy,” Roque told reporters when asked about government measures against the exodus of doctors and nurses.

“We believe that we have enough graduates and board passers to replace those who chose to work abroad,” he added.

The Palace official also noted that the government imposed an annual deployment cap for nurses to prevent a shortage of medical frontliners during the health crisis.

Hundreds of nurses and other medical professionals have reportedly resigned due to meager salary and physical exhaustion, coupled with the delay in the release of their benefits under the Bayanihan Law.

For instance, some 230 healthcare workers at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City have quit their jobs since January, according to the hospital’s union.

Roldan Clumia, president of St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association, said that local health workers were enticed to apply for jobs overseas due to better benefits and working conditions.
“We could not prevent nurses from resigning even if we talk with them,” he said in an interview on television.

Clumia lamented that health workers at the hospital have yet to receive their meal, accommodation, and transportation allowances that were promised by the government under the Bayanihan Law.

“The management has been instructed to submit requirements, but up to now, nothing has been delivered,” he said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, assured the group that their allowances would soon be disbursed since the Department of Health has requested the funds from the Department of Budget and Management.

“We have been able to download most of the funds to our regional offices to provide to all the facilities within their jurisdiction. We just need to complete the list from hospitals because they are still submitting additional names,” Vergeire said in a separate television interview.

“There are a lot of incomplete requirements that we need to return to facilities so that they can be completed, and there are still facilities submitting additional lists of employees,” she added.

In April 2020, a month after the government imposed a lockdown, the government suspended the deployment of healthcare workers abroad.

Authorities later lifted the suspension in response to public clamor, but set a 5,000 annual deployment limit with newly hired healthcare workers for mission-critical skills. The ceiling was raised to 6,500 this year.

Less than 900 remained of the 6,500 slots as of August, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

with Jomelle Garner

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