‘Disturbing’ | Group alarmed by termination of 40 nurses in Bulacan

“The FNU has been getting reports of LGU nurses experiencing harassment, intimidation and other forms of unfair, even inhuman practices, directly or indirectly related to political dynamics in their place of assignment.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — A group of nurses expressed concern over the firing of 40 contractual nurses in Bulacan Medical Center (BMC) for alleged “bad” bedside manners. The nurses were dismissed by the Bulacan provincial government.

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU), a national organization of nurses urged the local government to consider the nurses’ side of the story.

“While patients’ complaints are always valid, we should, at the same time look at other half of the story,” Jocelyn Santos-Andamo, said a registered nurse and FNU secretary general.

An Inquirer.net reported that 40 nurses were dismissed after patients complained of their “unfriendly and rude behavior.”

The report said BMC Director Dr. Protacio Bajao investigated the complaints and recommended the non-renewal of the nurses’ contract which lapsed last June 30. Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado has approved Bajao’s recommendation.

The FNU said they find the mass firing of nurses “disturbing.” Nurses groups have long complained of how nurses are subjected to long hours, an overload of patients, yet receive paltry pay. (Read: The worsening ‘toxic’ work condition of Filipino nurses )

The FNU is looking into the matter, as Andamo stressed the importance “to establish the context or the circumstance where the supposed poor service took place, meaning the hospital environment.” She said the mass termination of the nurses “may constitute an illegal and unlawful act by the local government in violation of the nurses’ basic right to job security.”

Contractualization of nurses, rampant under a devolved system

Andamo said the termination of the 40 nurses only shows the alarming condition of nurses under the devolved system.

Under a devolved system, public employees are hired and paid by the LGU. This was implemented under the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

Andamo said nurses under LGUs suffer from the widespread political patronage, which influences the hiring, promotion and firing of nurses.

“In fact, the FNU has been getting reports of LGU nurses experiencing harassment, intimidation and other forms of unfair, even inhuman practices, directly or indirectly related to political dynamics in their place of assignment,” Andamo said.

Ideally, she said, nurses who provide basic service such as health care should be spared from local politics, but the opposite is happening. She cited cases of nurses who were dismissed by local governments in Taguig City, and in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Camiguin and Rizal.

Andamo also said that contractual nurses in the government hospitals also suffer “endo,” or end of contract, and even worse, as the renewal of their contracts rely “on the whims of the superiors and local government officials.”

She added that there are cases of nurses in government hospitals who have remained contractual or hired on a “per project basis” for a year up to 20 years. They receive salaries way below minimum wage or P175 ($4) per day, with no work, no pay status.

The FNU challenged the Duterte administration to stop the practice of contractualization in government hospitals and regularize nurses all over the country in private hospitals and clinics, as well as in public hospitals under LGUs, under Office of the President (Philippine General Hospital) and even in Department of Health-retained hospitals and Government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

“As President Duterte recognizes the right to security of tenure, the government itself should stop the practice of contractualization,” Andamo said. ()

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