Up to 10,500 nurses and health care workers (HCWs) are likely to gain jobs abroad in the coming year as the government intends to further increase deployment by 4,000, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday.
Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Tutay said the government intends to increase by 4,000 the current 6,500 deployment cap for nurses and other HCWs by 2022.
“Let’s add 4,000 to the current 6,500, so it means that is a total of 10,500,” Tutay said during a virtual media briefing.
“But there is still a condition: if we will be able to produce 12,000 registered nurses for 2021,” she added.
Tutay said over 5,000 nursing graduates passed the licensure examination last July while 12,300 have applied to take the same test this month.
“If we are able to produce 12,000 (licensed nurses) for the year, we can spare around 4,000 to be added to the current deployment cap of 6,500,” she said.
If 8,000 out of the 12,300 examinees will pass the examination, the country will be able to produce 12,000 registered nurses for 2021, she said.
“But we cannot make a decision now because the board exam is not due until the coming weeks,” Tutay said.
The DOLE is submitting its recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) after consultation with the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies.
Citing data from the DOH, Tutay said the country has a shortage of 48,000 HCWs.
“So if we base it on the level of criticality of the situation, this is in the critical stage,” she noted.
She said the DOLE technical working group (TWG) on mission-critical skill is no longer recommending to the IATF to increase the deployment cap this year.
Tutay said the DOLE will have to make another assessment if the number of nursing board passers will be less than 8,000.
“What’s being discussed by the TWG on mission critical skills is looking at a certain percentage, depending on the production of (registered nurses),” she said.
In another development, Sen. Sonny Angara raised the need to revive the Senate committee of the whole to look into the administrative process of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) which continues to find difficulty in paying hospitals.
Angara was referring to the Senate convened as a committee of the whole in July 2020 when it investigated the alleged “rampant corruption, incompetence and inefficiency” that may lead to the bankruptcy of the state-run health insurance agency.
He raised the issue as he was being interpellated by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on the reason “why PhilHealth is having difficulty paying private and public hospitals.”
“This is also a great mystery to me… because they did get a lot of money from our paychecks… and their subsidy has been growing over the years for the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and of course they also have collections of their own, so I’m really not sure,” Angara said during his sponsorship of the proposed 2022 budget of P5.024 trillion.
Private hospitals have given PhilHealth until the end of this month to make “significant” payments of their reimbursement claims which have run up to P20 billion.
“I filed the resolution to look into their (PhilHealth’s) processes. I even asked ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority) to look into the processing steps of PhilHealth and practices,” Angara said. – Cecille Suerte Felipe