May Parsons, Nurse Even call for better treatment, pay of Filipino nurses

August 23, 2022 - 5:48 PM
The composite photo shows UK-based nurses May Parsons and Steven or more popularly known as Nurse Even. (May Parsons/Facebook; Nurse Even/Facebook)

May Parsons, the first person to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in the world, and content creator John Steven Soriano, popularly known as Nurse Even, demanded better treatment and pay for Filipino nurses.

“Kung hindi niyo po sila [nurses] pahahalagahan by giving them the right salary, by protecting them, by making them feel valued, hindi po sila mag-i-i-stay,” Parsons said on Monday, August 22, in a press conference at the University of Santo Tomas. 

Nurse Even shared a similar message through a parody video of Blackpink’s new single “Pink Venom.”

“Sometimes gusto ko ng ma-fire kasi ako ay super tired. I need a pay rise.” the lyrics of the parody song read. 

The average salary of nurses is P8,000 to 13,500 per month, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the latest poverty threshold or the monthly requirement of a family of five for basic needs is P12,030. 

Several groups questioned this amount, saying, “it’s not enough.”

READ: Grupo pinalagan datos na P80/araw ‘sapat’ sa pangangailangan ng Pinoy

In the United Kingdom, where both Parsons and Nurse Even work, the average monthly salary of overseas entry-level nurses is £1,662 or P109,500.24, according to a report by Inquirer citing data from DOLE. (£1= P65.88; Figures from Google exchange rate).

On the other hand, in a September 2020 study of information aggregator iPrice Group, it was revealed that Filipino registered nurses earn the least compared to their peers in the Southeast Asia region.

RELATED: Study reveals Filipino nurses are the lowest paid among Southeast Asian counterparts

Because of these circumstances, Parsons said the government should treat nurses fairly if they want them to stay.

“Hindi niyo po mapipigilan ang mga tao na umalis para mag-improve ang buhay nila kung hindi niyo sila papahalagahan,” the UST nursing graduate said. 

In 2020, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration suspended the deployment of healthcare workers abroad “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted in the destination countries.”

READ: Duterte to health workers: Stay in Philippines

“Walang bansa ang makaka-survive ng walang nurses,” Parsons, recipient of George Cross Award said. 

Meanwhile, in his video, Nurse Even also discussed issues confronting nurses, such as the disproportionate patient-to-nurse ratio, inadequate nurse staff, and rude patients and doctors. 

The standard nurse-to-patient ratio set by the Department of Health is 1:12. 

However, according to a study, the current ratio varies from 1:50 to 1:80, depending on the region. 

One of Nurse Even’s parody song cover’s line reads, “ako’y naiiyak, gusto ko nang mag-AWOL [absent without leave], beh kulang na sa staff. 

According to Filipino Nurses United, the country does not have a shortage of nurses, but hospitals are experiencing “chronic understaffing.” 

Around 32% of registered nurses are not practicing, either because they do not have jobs or they may be underemployed.

READ: No shortage of nurses but low pay, lack of tenure driving them abroad

Last month, Filipino doctors released a comment titled “Outmigration and unequal distribution of Filipino physicians and nurses: An urgent call for investment in health human resource and systemic reform” published in The Lancet-Regional Health in Western Pacific, a peer-reviewed journal, on July 8, 2022.

The physicians called to improve the compensation of Filipino healthcare workforce, address migration, unequal distribution of HCWs.

“We must invest in our HCWs and grow from the notion of health care as a purely altruistic vocation. Migration will continue with inadequate support, and this will have far-reaching consequences on health systems and populations,” physician Tricia Robredo, one of the authors tweeted.

RELATED: ‘Invest’: Doctors plea to address migration, unequal distribution of health workers