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Thousands of health workers face ax — Recto

  • Written by Marlon Purificacion
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 225

SENATE Minority Leader Ralph Recto exhorted his colleagues to rescue the thousands of Department of Health jobs in peril as the proposed 2017 budget for the DoH’s grassroots manpower deployment program will not be able to retain the number of personnel currently hired.

Recto said thousands of nurses, doctor, dentists will face the dreaded “endo” (end of contract) at the end of the year if Congress will not override the government’s plan to drastically downsize the number of frontline health personnel.

He said the Senate can explore many options to save these jobs or at least cushion the effects of what amounts to be a mass retrenchment.”

“First, we can infuse funds.  The 6,000 affected nurses alone would require something like P2 billion,” Recto said.

He said that the Senate can also insert a provision in the national budget that would state the affected personnel should have first priority to being absorbed by other or new programs of the Rural Health Practice Program (RHPP).

Another option is to insert a “firewall” provision, exempting poor, distant towns from the personnel cuts.
   
“We can insist that the status quo be maintained for 3rd class to 6th class towns,” he said.
   
Recto added he is in full support of the solutions being pursued by Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial on how to minimize the displacement, which was something that was merely imposed on the DoH.
   
The proposed cut was triggered by the payroll ceiling given to DoH for 2017 which could not accommodate the retention of all RHPP personnel as it has to fund the second round salary increases for its regular personnel under the Salary Standardization Law IV.
   
rectified, the number of doctors hired under the RHHP will be slashed by one-half, and nurses, by one-third.
   
Recto said that under the agency’s Doctor to the Barrios program, the number of physicians assigned to low-income towns will go down from 946 this year to 435 next year, or 511 fewer.
   
But it is in the deployment of nurses where the biggest cut is observed -- from 15,727 this year to 9,349 in 2017, which means 6,378 nurses contracted under the Nurse Deployment Program will be axed.
   
The senator said the number of DoH-paid dentists who will be assigned to rural clinics will also be reduced from the 2016 level of 324 to 243 next year.
   
While fewer doctors, nurses and dentists will be dispatched, the number of medical technologists and midwives hired would stay at 308 and 3,100 respectively.
   
Overall, RHPP slots will be slashed from the current 21,118 to 18,825 next year.
   
The good news is that the DoH will hire 2,587 UHC (Universal Health Coverage) Implementers and 2,803 Public Health Associates (PHAs) he said.
   
PHAs are either nurses or nursing associates who will be paid P19,000 a month.
   
UHC Implementers, on the other hand, can be any licensed health professional who will be given a salary of P26,000 a month or a doctor whose take-home pay is P56,000 monthly.

RHPP’s proposed budget for 2017 is P7.03 billion.