January 18, 2023
MANILA — The “exodus” of nurses due to low pay and poor working conditions has forced those who remain to work for 12 hours, according to a hospital employees union.
With nurses leaving for overseas, the 12-hour shift has become the norm due to understaffing, said De La Salle University (DLSU) Medical Center employees union president Vilma Garcia.
“Our ‘regular’ working hours is 12 hours; we can’t bring it back to eight hours anymore,” Garcia said in a briefing organized by the Federation of Free Workers.
Garcia said aside from the physical and mental stress on overworked nurses, the 12-hour duty is also affecting the quality of patient care.
She cited DLSU Medical Center, Cavite’s biggest hospital, which can only admit 43 percent of its 250-bed capacity, or around 107 patients.
A 250-bed capacity hospital requires 340 nurses. But DLSU Medical Center currently has only 100, so they can only admit patients at less than 50 percent capacity.
“Even if the patient has money, we can’t admit them simply because there’s no one to assist them,” she said, citing instances of patients who died at the emergency room without being admitted.
Garcia said private hospital nurses receive an entry-level monthly pay of between P12,500 and P16,000, while their counterparts in government hospitals receive P35,000.
She said the hospital provided allowances but these are not enough to stop the resignations. Even new hires resign in two years.
Nursing students are offered employment contracts in Germany and England where they can continue their studies to ensure that they will serve in the hospitals there, she said.
“So we are now searching all over the country to find nurses to recruit,” said Garcia.