The Department of Health (DOH) plans to hire as regular employees the thousands of unemployed nurses under the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN Heals) Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Sunday.
On the said proposal, the government will double the salaries of the nurses deployed under the RN Heals program once they become regular government employees.
“That is what we are proposing—that by next year we will regularize them. They will no longer be known as RN Heals. We will also double their salary to P22,000,” the Health Secretary said in an interview.
Note that RN Heals nurses are not receiving salaries but allowances.
The DOH plans to hire half the current number of RN Heals nurses permanently by January 2014. The regularization of RN Heals nurses would be beneficial as it would increase the amount of compensation they receive from DOH every month.
“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,” he explained.
“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.”
He also said that with the billions of pesos PhilHealth will be pumping into the health care system across the country, the local government units would also be able to hire their own nurses within the next two years.
Lastly, Ona reportedly said that the proposal is awaiting President Aquino’s approval.
The RN Heals Program
The DOH started the RN Heals program last 2011 as an “emergency measure” after it was found that around 200,000 nurses in the country were unemployed.
The project was aimed at improving the access of the poor to quality healthcare by creating a pool of registered nurses and sending them either to district hospitals or far-flung areas.
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The RN Heals nurses, however, were not considered regular employees but “pre-service trainees” who were given allowances and not salaries.
RN Heals may last for two more years
Ona, meanwhile, said the program may last for only two more years as local governments and district hospitals would be able to absorb the RN Heals 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,” he explained.
Lower enrollment in nursing schools
Health Secretary Ona said that the enrollment in nursing schools have gone down by almost 75 to 80 percent.
“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, he said”
“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.