Manila, Philippines — Nurses for Change Movement is planning to hold a protest next month after a letter by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to Rep. Leah S. Paquiz of Ang Nars went viral on social media.
In the said letter dated May 26, 2014, DBM apparently turned down the proposed increase in wages of nurses.
“While the law expressly provides for SG-15 as the entry level for nurses, its implementation would distort the hierarchical relationship of medical and allied positions, as well as other positions in bureaucracy,” according to the letter signed by Edgardo M. Macaranas, OIC Assistant Director of DBM.
DBM added that the proposed upgrading by the Ang NARS would require the government an additional cost of Php 438,109,687 per annum and doing so would “further strain the government coffers.”
[quote_center]”…additional PS costs of Php 438,109,687 per annum…would further strain the government coffers.” [/quote_center]
After reading the letter, Dr. Carl E. Balita, a radio show host and registered nurse, made buzz online and called for nurses to take action and organize a “mass action,” including a plan to stage a protest on October 17, 2014.
Balita added that “corruption” is what strains the government’s treasury and not personal services for nurses.
Balita, together with a group of nurses, created the Nurses for Change Movement that advocates to implement salary grade 15, stop false volunteerism among nurses, and have adequate nurse-patient ratio.
For now, the Nurses for Change Movement is focused on campaigning in social media outlets to gain more supporters for the cause. Balita also urged nurses to set the group’s logo as their profile image to banner their support.
In 2002, the RA 9173 was enacted to outline the principles and regulations professional nursing in the Philippines. In Sec. 32 of RA 9173, the law that states that “nurses working in public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade (SG) 15.” But law versus reality, and twelve years later, the basic monthly salary of a nurse is still around SG 11 or equivalent to P15,649 ($357) or less wherein they should be earning around P22,688 ($518.10).
The salary of nurses was severely downgraded to SG 11 due to the “Salary Standardization Law 3.”
In 2012, the former Representative of Aurora Juan Edgardo Angara, filed House Bill 5780 that seeks to institute reforms to further protect and develop the nursing profession in the country. The bill aims to reinstate the salary grade of nurses to SG 15 as provided by RA 9173. Under the Third Tranche Monthly Salary Schedule for Civilian National Government personnel which was implemented way back June 1, 2011, those under Salary Grade 15 will get a monthly pay of P22,688 ($518) moving up to P24,934 ($569) from Step 1 to Step 8.
Dangerous Nurse-to-Patient Ratios
Among the advocacies of the group is to have an ideal nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:4 per shift. The Philippine General Hospital has a nurse to patient ratio of 1:15-26 per shift while Davao del Sur has a province-wide ration of 1:44-45 per shift. These inadequate staffing issues are inhumanely dangerous both for the nurse and the patient.
Many studies in the United States found a significant link between safe-staffing ratios and ensuring safety and effective care for both patients and nurses. In 2010, a study by the University of Pennsylvania found out that adequate staffing tends to decrease job dissatisfaction and lowered the likelihood of in-patient death within 30 days of hospital admission.
In another study by by Medical Care, an increase of one registered nurse (RN) per patient was associated with 24 percent reduction in time spent in the intensive care unit and a 31 percent reduction in time spend in surgical units.
Not only safe-staffing would provide safer care, it would ultimately address baseless shortage of nurses in Philippine hospitals and at the same time providing jobs for an about 300,000 unemployed nurses in the country.
What is Ang NARS doing?
Meanwhile, many netizens are wondering what the Ang Nars is doing.
Since earning a spot in the Congress last election, they have been proactive in campaigning and passing bills for the welfare of nurses in the country. If you have been a follower of the group, they have an active Facebook page where they post most of their accomplishments.
Sabi nga nila "ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS", kaya naman po ang ating ANG NARS Party-list Representative,…
Unite for Change
The letter by the DBM may just show that nurses are not in the priority list of the Philippine government. Nurses in the country are understaffed, severely underpaid, and demoralized as professionals. A wake up call for the government to take action and reform is much needed here and Nurses for Change Movement could pave the way.
Nurseslabs is all in for what is rightful and legal for the welfare of all nurses and we believe that equal work means equal pay.
$1 = Php 43.78