PGH calls for more permanent positions for nurses
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) wants more permanent positions to be made available to its nurses because the current nurse-to-patient ratio at the country’s premier hospital remains “far from ideal.”
PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi said on Tuesday that the hospital continued to hire nurses under job-order contracts since the 80 plantilla slots opened recently were “still not enough” as it was catering to roughly 650,000 patients each year.
Ideally, the nurse-to-patient ratio should be 1:12. But at the PGH’s wards, the current ratio is 1:16, while it is 1:28 in the emergency room, according to Legaspi.
“PGH is a big hospital. And unlike other hospitals, we have a training component. That’s why some of our nurses not only go on nurse duty but also train nurses from other hospitals,” Legaspi said. “That reduces the time for actual nursing. That’s why you need more nurses.”
Compounding the inadequate staffing is the turnover problem. At least two nurses resign monthly to seek better opportunities abroad.
This figure, however, is an improvement from the turnover rate three years ago, when around nine nurses were resigning every month, Legaspi said.
Apart from pushing for the restoration of cuts in the proposed PGH budget for 2020, the hospital will ask Congress to provide it with more permanent positions for nurses to entice them to remain in the country.
A permanent post would help guarantee that nurses receive better pay as the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 sets the pay of government nurses at Salary Grade 15, or up to P30,531 a month.
Currently, the PGH is compliant with this provision, which has somehow helped it “to retain nurses better than other hospitals,” Legaspi said.
Nurses group Filipino Nurses United earlier expressed concern that not enough nurses were working in hospitals across the country due to low pay.
It noted that the Philippines was losing its nurses not only to Western countries but also to its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
In Thailand, nurses are paid a minimum P55,930 monthly, while in Malaysia they can earn around P82,000. Pay is even higher in Singapore at nearly P112,000.
PGH budget cut
Earlier, Sen. Ralph Recto slammed the P456-million cut in the PGH’s 2020 budget. From the current P3.2 billion, the Department of Budget and Management only programmed for the PGH close to P2.8 billion for next year despite the hospital’s operating budget already reaching almost P5 billion.
In the general appropriations bill transmitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate, only P200 million was restored in the PGH budget.
Apart from the national budget, the PGH is also able to source funds from private donors, the offices of the President and Vice President, as well as such agencies as the Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Recto said the budget cut mainly affected the PGH’s allotments for capital outlay and maintenance and operating expenses.
He stressed that if the government’s annual budget was increasing without fail, it was but logical that the PGH budget did so, as well.
“Funding for [the PGH] is the national barometer of our health priorities. It is the national hospital, so the money it gets from the government reflects the importance [the] government gives to health,” Recto said.
Apart from better pay for nurses, Legaspi said another way to help keep them in the country was by “changing the culture” on how they were regarded.
“Nurses should be given a bigger role in management, taking care of patients so that they would feel that their role [on] a team is more definite … there are also many opportunities for training,” he said.