Many hospitals run by local governments are in danger of being closed down because of lack of nurses, a pro-administration lawmaker said on Saturday.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said hospitals run by local governments were losing to the Department of Health offering very much higher pay than the local government.
Under DOH guidelines, local governments pay the nurses they employ P25,000 a month; while the departments offer a starting salary of P45,000 a month under the latest tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, thus the exodus of the trained nurses to the DOH.
“The DOH must stop pirating nurses working in hospitals run by local government units (LGUs) to join an apparently flawed national recruitment program ostensibly aimed at deploying health professionals to geographically isolated and poor communities across the country,” Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte said the DOH was undermining local autonomy, particularly the devolution of health functions to LGUs, with the problem projected to worsen if LGU hospitals find themselves with a severe nurse shortage.
The DOH is the agency tasked to supervise the operation of local government hospitals and it imposes certain staffing patterns that the local government hospitals may not need owing to the exodus of their nurses to the DOH.
Villafuerte lamented the DOH’s “pirating” strategy could weaken the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care program.
“LGUs which are tasked to provide primary and secondary health care, are facing a shortage of medical staff to deliver these services in their respective communities.
He said the problem was expected to worsen in the years to come if it remained uncorrected because, under the K-12 program, which has added two years to the basic education curriculum, the production of new nurses had been delayed as secondary students were spending two more years in high school.
He cited, for instance, the case of CamSur where nurses have started leaving en masse from LGU-run hospitals to transfer to the Bicol Medical Center in Naga City, which reportedly opened just recently 800 positions for nurses under the NDP.
“The DOH being the agency tasked to check on the operations of LGU hospitals is the same one now undermining their ability to continue operating. How can LGUs continue meeting the DOH’s medical staff requirement when the Department itself has been virtually pirating their nurses with its recruitment spree?” he stressed.
“Where will LGUs get new nurses for their small hospitals now that their existing ones are darting off to DOH-managed facilities?” Villafuerte said.