Government’s pandemic response has been neglectful of frontline health workers (April 15, 2021)
Filipino Nurses United (FNU), as a national labor association of nurses, believes that while nurses perform their professional functions, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure nurses and health workers’ protection for a safe work environment to reduce risks of COVID-19 infection and at the same time, ensure that we have the means, capacity and resources that could make us perform our jobs well. At this stage, we reiterate our call for a serious restrategizing of COVID-19 response to save our people from this worst national public health disaster.
The supplies such as medicines, drugs and vital life-saving equipment for palliative care and treatment should be made available for free and accessible for all people. The government should not forget that if there is shortage of around 2,000 hospital beds, there is a need to ensure not only additional beds but more so additional health personnel alongside filling in the chronic gap of severe lack of current health staff in the entire health care system. The public health measures for infection control should be strongly improved providing COVID tests free and accessible, systematic contact tracing and improved quarantine services.
Under the current national state of calamity, President Duterte has the power to realign some of the COVID-budget to more relevant, appropriate and urgent COVID response. There are much sources to finance mass hiring of much needed health workers including nurses, such as additional 42,000 public health nurses in 42,000 barangays and 3000 nurses in COVID-19 health care facilities and referral centers. Allocation of around P15B can upgrade majority of nurses’ salaries in the government sector including nurses in local government units (LGUs), regardless of employment status and employer. The said budget can also subsidize the private sector nurses’ pay increase at this time of pandemic.
FNU as a national labor association of nurses reiterates the following demands:
- PROVIDE free, adequate, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPEs) to all frontline health workers;
- MASS HIRING of nurses for the 42,000 barangays and for public hospitals, with regular/permanent positions;
- INCREASE salaries of all nurses, regardless of employment status, including the private sector;
- SUBSIDIZE private hospitals for PPEs, salaries, benefits and COVID 19 supplies and services;
- RELEASE the delayed salaries and AHDP, SRA benefits of local government nurses;
- FILL UP AND CREATE more plantilla positions in government hospitals and in public health facilities;
- END contractualization of all nurses;
- END demotion in rank of all government nurses including LGU nurses;
- PROVIDE benefits such as hazard pay, (including Bayanihan 2 benefits of AHDP and SRA) transportation, accommodation and paid vaccination and quarantine leaves for all health workers/employees
- OVERHAUL the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and restrategize COVID-19 response towards more scientific and comprehensive sustainable programs.
We have made formal communications, dialogues and protest actions since last year. Lip service to health workers would not do any good for our patients and communities. No matter how good press releases are, no matter how government denies its failures, the people will remain to be the decisive judge. Accurate, truthful and scientific health statistics or indicators of COVID-19 and mortality cases will speak for itself whether the leadership and management of the COVID-19 response has passed the test of responsiveness to people’s health needs, lives and safety.
Fight COVID-19! #ProtectNurses! Ensure public safety! #JustCompensation and benefits for all nurses, NOW! Ensure safe nurse-to-patient ratio! #MassHiringNow!