Government nurses fight for delayed monthly pay

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SOME 30,000 registered nurses who were hired by the government in 2011 under Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN-HEALS) Project are not receiving their meager monthly salary of only P8,000, according to a lawmaker.

Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna), author of House Resolution 2926, said the registered nurses are complaining of delayed and unpaid allowances as stipulated in their contract. They also said their monthly pay is way below the mandated salary level of government.

Casiño urged the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation to conduct an inquiry into the matter and invite the officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and other stakeholders to shed light on the issue.

“Congress should look into the plight and working conditions of registered nurses which negatively affect their morale and dignity as professionals based on the Philippine Nursing Act and the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers,” Casiño said.

Under the RN-HEALS Project, the DOH hired some 30,000 nurses from February 2011 to March 2012. The agency is also planning to hire another 22,500 more nurses with a budget of P2.16 billion through the agency’s P53.055 billion annual budget.

While on deployment, the nurses will be given an allowance of P8,000 a month by the DOH while the local government unit (LGU) where they are assigned shall supervise them, ensure their safety and security, and provide modest board and lodging. Likewise, LGUs are encouraged to provide additional allowances and benefits worth at least P2,000 to these nurses.

Casiño said RN-HEALS nurses were supposed to receive P8,000 as monthly salary, GSIS group accident insurance, PhilHealth medical insurance, and a Certificate of Competency and Employment.

“The P8,000 monthly salary of registered nurses proved to be inadequate for their basic needs, including transportation, meals and communication. The stipend is way below the mandated salary level of government nurses pegged at P18,549 by Joint Resolution No. 4 or the Salary Standardization Law,” Casiño said.

Casiño said the nurses have been reportedly treated as second class nurses, taking the blame for errors made by others, and made to perform the tasks of nursing aides.

Casiño said that about 95 registered nurses in Virac, Catanduanes have been complaining of two to three weeks of delay in allowances and unpaid P2,000 additional allowances and meals.

The RN-HEALS is a training and development project for currently unemployed nurses for the improvement of local health systems and support the country’s attainment of Millennium Development targets,” as stated in Joint memorandum Circular No. 2011-0044 of the DOH and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The local government units will provide an additional monthly support of P2,000 to those nurses assigned in their areas, while hospitals will provide meals amounting to P2,000 per month, based on the Joint Memorandum Circular and DOH Department Order No. 2011-0239, respectively.

However, the certificate of employment to be received by RN HEALS nurses was changed to a “Certificate of Completion” in September 2011. The certificate in question then became a “Certificate of Competency and Deployment” in January 2012 by succeeding DOH department orders.

Casiño said the nurses perform the duties of regular staff nurses, handle as many patients, sometimes work more than eight hours in a shift but are not provided with overtime pay and other benefits including medicines and treatment when they get injured or sick.

Casiño cited Section 10 of the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or Republic Act 7305 saying “there shall be no understaffing or overloading of public health workers. The ratio of health staff-to-patient load shall be such as to reasonably effect a sustained delivery of quality health care at all times without overworking the public health worker and over extending his or her duty and service. Health students and apprentices shall be allowed only for purposes of training and education.”

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