The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) said private hospitals are bearing the brunt of the shortage of healthcare workers as the country continues to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHAPI president Dr. Jose Rene de Grano said while private hospitals are prepared to accommodate COVID-19 patients, the private hospitals’ problem is the shortage of healthcare workers.
“A lot of healthcare workers who left private hospitals have either transferred to public hospitals or have gone overseas. Private hospitals are feeling the impact of shortage of healthcare workers,” De Grano said.
The Department of Health earlier said the country is in need of at least 160,000 nurses in public and private facilities and hospitals across the nation.
Health workers also appealed for higher pay to help them cope with the high cost of living.
The DOH also said the workforce gap spans other health care professionals such as doctors, physical therapists, and dentists, with the total shortage at around 194,000, the agency said.
The breakdown, according to the department, is as follows: nurses, 106,541; physicians, 67,345; pharmacists, 6,651; x-ray technicians, 5,502; medical technologists, 4,416; nutritionists and dietitians, 1,680; occupational therapists, 884; midwives, 785; physical therapists, 223; and dentists, 87.
DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the shortage would not be solved solely by implementing a deployment cap.
Policies on benefits and salaries will have a greater impact on bolstering the country’s health workforce, she said.
“We’re proposing to [amend] the Magna Carta bill to cover both private and public workers. The second one will be a bill on the standardization of salaries,” she said. “This means that the workers in the private sector will get the same salary as those in government service.”
Vergeire said there were reports of the migration of health care workers from the private to the public sector due to notable discrepancies in salaries.
The DOH is set to meet with the Department of Migrant Workers next week to discuss possible mutual agreements with countries that employ Filipino health care workers.
The department said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is aware of the different issues facing health workers and has ordered the formulation of reforms.
The POEA earlier said 7,000 nurses are allowed for overseas employment this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.