RIZAL 4th District Rep. Fidel Nograles on Tuesday vowed that Congress would work closely with the executive branch in improving the working conditions of nurses.
This, as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. promised nurses his administration will work on addressing various issues surrounding the nursing profession during the 100th anniversary of the Philippine Nurses Association, Inc.
“Makakaasa ang bansa na makikipagtulungan tayo sa pangulo upang mapatotoo ang matagal nang inaasam ng ating mga nurse na mapabuti ang kalagayan nila, pangunahin na ang pagpapataas ng kanilang sahod,” Nograles, who chairs the House Committee on Labor, said.
“We in the legislative will look at how we can intervene to establish a better working environment for our nurses. Ang dami nating nurse, ngunit hindi napupunan ang mga pangangailangan natin sa ating mga health institution dahil sa samu’t saring dahilan. We have to find out what we can do to avoid such impasse, and avoid crippling our healthcare system because our nurses do not wish to work here,” the lawmaker added.
Nograles, a stalwart of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) led by Speaker Martin G. Romualdez as president, cited the need to engage the private sector in finding solutions to bridge the disparity in pay between nurses working in public and private hospitals.
Entry-level nurses with items in public hospitals are paid over P35,000 (Salary Grade 15), while those in private institutions reportedly get paid at around P12,000 monthly. Those who work in the provinces reportedly get much lower pay than their city counterparts, and do not get the same benefits.
Such disparity, which has gone on for years, is pushing nurses to seek better employment opportunities abroad, Nograles said.
“We have seen during the height of the pandemic how this can be a problem, with our nurses refusing to work here despite increased demand as their salaries are not commensurate to the service they render, especially during a public health crisis where such service can endanger their lives and that of their families,” the Harvard-trained lawyer said.
He added that solving the wage disparity is a complicated issue that cannot be addressed simply by passing a law mandating hospitals to increase nurses’ wages.
“The fact is, some hospitals also simply cannot afford to increase their personnel’s salary,” he said.
The lawmaker, however, expressed hope that Congress could find a “workable solution” that all stakeholders could be satisfied with.