Private hospitals fear manpower drain as staff eye jobs abroad

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2021 12:51 PM | Updated as of Oct 19 2021 01:19 PM

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Video courtesy of PTV

A group of private hospitals said on Tuesday it is concerned with a possible shortage of manpower as scores of staff resigned to pursue jobs abroad.

In the past 2 to 3 weeks, about 5 percent of nurses filed resignations because they wanted to work abroad, said Private Hospital Association of the Philippines, Inc. president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano. 

"Kung hindi po natin medyo mapipigilan itong pag-alis na ito, baka po in another 6 months, baka po maubusan tayo ng mga nurses at mapipilay po talaga ang ating mga health facilities," he said in a televised public briefing.

(If we cannot stop this exodus, perhaps in another 6 months, we might run out of nurses and our health facilities will be crippled.) 

"Iyon po ang kinakatakot natin dahil ‘pag masyado po tayong lumuwag sa pagpapalabas ng ating mga healthcare workers at wala naman tayong maipalit kaagad sa kanila, baka tayo po ang maubusan ng healthcare workers. Magiging limitado tayo, limited ang ating pagtanggap ng pasyente," he added. 

(That is what we fear because if we are too lenient with letting our healthcare workers leave and we fail to replace them quickly, we might run out of healthcare workers. Our acceptance of patience will be limited.)
Some health workers earlier complained of low pay and poor working conditions. 

On Sunday, Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, acknowledged that some health workers avail of job opportunities abroad because of the attractive pay.

"Kung mapapaakyat siguro natin, mapapataas natin ang sweldong matatanggap ng ating nurses ay maaaring magkaroon sila ng pagdadalawang-isip doon sa pag-alis sa ating bansa. Kasi, maiisip nila na, 'Medyo okay naman tong magiging sweldo ko, so pwede na siguro akong mag-stay na lang dito. Kasama ko ang aking pamilya, kahit medyo slightly mababa. Pero, at least okay'," she said in an interview on TeleRadyo.

(If we can increase the basic pay of our nurses, they might have second thoughts about leaving the country, because they will feel that with a salary higher than the current rate although not really at par with what's offered abroad, it's better to stay here and be with their families.)

"Pero kung malaki ang difference, mahihirapan talaga tayo. We have to accept, sa ibang bansa, talagang mas malaki ang suweldo na kanilang matatanggap, and maybe the chance of working in another hospital, lalo na kung UK at saka sa America, medyo iba yung enticement nung pagtatrabaho sa UK at America," she added.

(But if the difference between the salary here and abroad remains wide, then we'll really have a hard time keeping our nurses here. We have to accept that they will really get much higher pay abroad, and it's also really different if they get the chance of working in foreign hospitals, especially in the UK and the US.)

Limpin said that more than the additional benefits, a higher basic pay will really matter.

She appealed to hospital administrators to take care of their current staff, noting that their experience in attending to COVID-19 patients makes them extra valuable compared to newly hired staff.
President Rodrigo Duterte in September said government would look for funds to hire more medical frontliners, as the Philippines battled one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks straining the health care system. 

The government has distributed the most of the delayed special risk allowance that health workers protested in recent months, said De Grano. 

"Meron pa rin pong pailan-ilan na hindi [nakakatanggap], pero inaayos na po ito ng ating mga LGUs at ng Department of Health," he said. 

(There are a few who have not received their allowance, but local governments and the Department of Health are fixing this.)