MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - The Department of Health is planning to absorb half of the nurses serving in its RN Heals program (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Services) by January next year and give them higher compensation.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the nurses who would be hired or regularized could receive a monthly compensation of P16,000, higher than the P8,000 monthly allowance that they receive from the DOH.
“Ang mga sweldo nila kasi is… hindi actually salary ‘yun kundi parang allowances lamang… P8,000 per month and 2,000 ‘yung ibibigay ng community o ng rural health unit kung nasaan sila o ng ospital kung nasaan sila assigned. Ang ating gagawin ngayon ay we will cut into half na lamang ‘yung ating mga iha-hire na nurses next year, at least ito ay plano."
"Subalit they will now be paid, talagang ‘yung tunay na compensation of a nurse which is about P16,000,” Ona told reporters in Malacañang.
The plan is awaiting the President’s approval.
The DOH carried out the RN Heals program in 2010 as an “emergency measure” to address the shortage of nurses in far-flung and depressed areas and at the same time give training to unemployed nurses.
Ona said there are almost 20,000 nurses deployed to government hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations.
Ona said the program may last for only two more years as local governments and district hospitals would be able to absorb the nurses by that time because of the expected improvement in the hospitals’ finances.
“Ang ating local governments ngayon at mga rural health units at saka mga district hospitals, in two years’ time, I’m sure may kakayahan na silang sila ang magsusweldo dahil nga malaki na rin ang kikitain nila o ‘yung perang maaabot sa kanila magmula sa expansion ng ating Philhealth,” Ona said.
Meantime, the health secretary said enrolment in nursing schools has gone down, seeing opportunities for nurses, adding that the country is now producing just about enough number.
“Ang enrolment ng nurses ngayon na napakadami noong araw has gone down by almost 75 to 80 percent so mukhang ang lumalabas ngayon, tamang-tama na lamang ‘yung ating production ng ating nurses kaya wala na tayong masyadong naririnig sa problema ng mga nurses na naghahanap ng trabaho. Subalit tama ‘yun, hindi pa rin sapat ang mga position. But marami na ring mga bansa ngayon na nag-oopen sila and at the same time also ang ating gobyerno ay nagkakaroon na ngayon ng mga sapat na pondo para ma-absorb natin ang ating mga nurses na talaga namang kailangan natin sa ating mga rural health unit, district hospitals, at even dito sa ating Department of Health hospitals.”
Ona noted that while demand for nurses abroad subsided because of the economic downturn in Europe and the United States, nurses remain in demand here particularly in areas of medical transcription and outsourcing and even in government service, including jobs in Philhealth.
“Kaya nakikita kong paganda nang paganda na ang ating mga opportunities sa ating mga nurses dito sa ating bayan,” he said.