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Nurses lament ‘starvation pay’

Nurses in government hospitals are earning a monthly average of P13,500, while their private counterparts are getting an average of P10,000 per month

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Nurses have pressed the government anew to raise their salaries, hasten the release of their benefits, and regularize contractual workers to address the exodus of health professionals amid the continuing increase in Covid-19 cases.

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on Monday night said the entry salaries of both public and private nurses should be increased to P50,000 a month. Some described their present rates as “starvation pay.”

Over 100,000 nurses in the private sector earn P537 per day in Metro Manila, but those in areas outside the capital region receive much lower salaries, according to the organization. It also noted the disparity between the salaries of nurses in private hospitals and state-run facilities.

Those in government hospitals are earning a monthly average of P13,500, while those in private hospitals are getting an average of P10,000 per month, FNU pointed out.

“FNU encourages our nurses to serve our countrymen. However, we support their aspiration to support their dreams for their families, especially if it is a matter of survival from deep economic hardships,” the group said in a statement.

The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) echoed the call, saying some of the Covid-19 compensation packages and risk allowances promised by the government have yet to be given to them.

“One of the biggest concerns of our group is the compensation or benefits for Filipino nurses,” PNA president Melvin Miranda told the Daily Tribune.

“Many of our nurses are now working abroad because of the big disparity of salaries between local and foreign hospitals,” he added.

About 40 percent of private hospital nurses resigned last year either to work in state-run facilities or abroad for bigger pay, leading to a shortage of staff in private hospitals, based on the estimates of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines.

Likewise, many government-employed nurses do not have regular positions and benefits and can be terminated anytime, FNU lamented.

The organization also scored the inadequate or delayed provision of benefits, saying it “adds up to the extreme frustration of nurses who put their lives on the line,” especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The nurses are also urging the government to implement a safe nurse-to-patient ratio and regularize contractual workers, including job order nurses.

Medical professionals also wanted the incoming Marcos administration to chart a comprehensive plan to get the Philippines out of the pandemic rut.

Experts from the health department recently observed an uptick in infections following the detection of more transmissible Covid-19 variants, which it said could be the “start of the peak” of cases.

Over 3.69 million individuals have so far contracted coronavirus infection nationwide, of which 60,000 people have died.

With reports from MJ BLANCAFLOR

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