DOH urged to hire more medical workers

THE Department of Health (DoH) has been urged to address backlogs on healthcare personnel using this year's budget.

Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo underscored the need to hire more doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers in this time of pandemic.

Castelo has reminded the DOH that the hiring of more medical professionals is authorized under its budget for this year.

The DOH has 72,479 in permanent positions, of which 59,427 are filled, leaving a balance of 13,058.

“Since appropriations for government salaries are released in full, including those for vacant positions, the DOH should have the funds to hire additional personnel to complete its staff,” she said.

She said most of the unfilled jobs are for doctors, nurses and midwives.

“We need those additional healthcare workers while we are battling the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 2,000 of our existing personnel had been infected and had been confined to quarantine facilities, though many of them are recovering from the disease,” the neophyte solon added.

Castelo pointed out that salaries in the bureaucracy “are now competitive and may even be better than hiring rates in the private sector.”

She said the entry-level basic monthly salary for a doctor is about P52,000, while the hiring rate for a nurse is P32,000.

In hiring additional personnel, Castelo suggested that the DOH give priority to the more than 3,000 doctors and nurses who had responded to its call for volunteers when COVID-19 cases were rising and government hospitals were struggling to accommodate and treat infected patients of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). “Their willingness to face risk to their own health so they could serve the country is their principal qualification to be accepted into our public healthcare system,” she said.

Likewise, the DOH could also consider returning overseas Filipino workers who are doctors and nurses and who lost their jobs abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let us ramp up the hiring of additional healthcare personnel. Funds for salaries are meant to be spent, not saved,” she added.

In a related story, Castelo has filed a bill seeking a two-month tax holiday for all workers in public and private hospitals, clinics and similar health facilities.