Higher salary for Filipino nurses sought

By Jee Y. Geronimo/rappler.com – The Philippines licenses thousands of nurses every year, and yet one of the biggest problems in the health system is maldistribution, as health workers prefer to stay in urbanized areas where they can be compensated properly.

To “uphold the dignity of nurses,” Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III recently filed Senate Bill 2583, which seeks an entry level salary of P24,887 for registered nurses working in government institutions. This is an increase from Salary Grade (SG) 11 (P18,549) to Salary Grade 15.

For nurses working in the private sector, the bill mandates an equivalent salary for SG 15.

Guingona said he filed the bill because many registered nurses remain unemployed “as a result of the health system’s failure in determining and projecting human resource needs in and out of the country.”

“Plantilla positions in public hospitals remain unfilled, making nurses vulnerable to exploitation and unfair labor practices. In recent years, nurses have been forced to work in job order or contractual terms. Many accept ‘volunteer’ work or pay ‘training fees’ just to be able to work. We need to correct this,” he said in a statement on Thursday, February 5.

Many Filipino nurses also leave the country to work abroad. The latest country migration report of the International Organization for Migration showed that in 2012 alone, 15,655 out of 458,575 deployed newly-hired, land-based overseas Filipino workers are nurses. (READ: PH migration report: Number of OFWs increasing)

Aside from the proposed salary increase, the bill seeks the creation of a Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing that will supervise and regulate the conduct of the Philippine Nurse Licensure Exams. It can also issue, suspend, revoke, or reissue certificates of registration.

The same Board will establish an “incentive and benefit system” that includes free hospital care for nurses and their dependents, and scholarship grants, among other benefits.

Nurses will also be mandated to take up continuing professional development. This way, they will be updated with the latest trends in the practice of nursing which can help them improve and enhance their competencies.

Guingona said his proposed bill is a comprehensive nursing law that will repeal Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 1991.

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