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Biggest endo lay-off: Over 7,000 nurses to lose jobs as DOH slashes budget by P9.4B in 2020

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Senator Ralph Recto warned that 7,107 public health nurses could lose their jobs next year after the Department of Health (DOH) reduced its budget by 10 percent to P88.26 billion in 2020 from P9.9 billion in 2019.

“If not reversed, it will turn us into an archipelago of dismissed nurses. It is a kind of hospital discharge that is the most unkind,” Recto said.

Majority of the budget cut was borne by the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program with P2.45 billion in 2020 from P8.5 billion this year.

Recto said the DOH could tap P7 billion from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), a DBM-controlled funding warehouse for personnel services expenditures, but its release was subject to conditions, and not automatic.

The P2.45 billion under the DOH budget will only cover the continued employment of 3,854 nurses, out of the 17,293 deployed this year. Add the 6,322 nurses to be funded by MPBF and the potential total comes up to 10,186 hired and rehired in 2020.

Even under this best case scenario, Recto says 7,107 nurses will still be given pink slips next year.

“Hindi lang nurses. Wipeout din ang ilang dentista, from the current 202 to zero next year. Maraming mga rural health units ang magiging bungal sa pagbunot sa serbisyo ng kanilang mga dentisa. Ganun din sa mga medical technologists, mula sa 597 na kasalukuyang naka-deploy to zero in 2020,” said Recto.

“Lahat-lahat, tinataya ng DOH na 10,921 na health personnel who are currently employed by the program ang masisisante sa 2020. This is equivalent to 4 in 10 or a plague-like 40 percent casualty rate,” he added.

To avoid the biggest “endo” in health care, Recto said the government should increase HRDP by P16 billion to retain 26,389 health workers.

“We have to do this because the health professional deployment and dispersal program is one of the lynchpins of the Universal Health Care program. Thus, the UHC should be launched with a great leap forward in the number of doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, medical technologists and other health workers to unserved and underserved, poor and far-flung areas. The budget cut, however, points to a great retreat,” said Recto.

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