Over 1K Pinoy nurses trained for German hospitals stranded in PHL

More than a thousand Filipino skilled nurses who have been accepted to work in German hospitals remain stranded in the country since April due to the deployment ban on health workers, and risk losing those jobs altogether.
Filipino nurses
In this September 20, 2010, file photo, new professional nurses attend an oath-taking ceremony at a Manila convention center.

MORE than a thousand Filipino skilled nurses who have been accepted to work in German hospitals remain stranded in the country since April due to the deployment ban on health workers, and risk losing those jobs altogether.

The ban was imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid-19 and affirmed recently.

One of the requirements to be accepted in Germany is to be able to speak German. With lessons funded by German employers, these nurses studied the language in order to qualify.  However, their proficiency to speak German has slowed down due to lack of practice, noted a veteran recruiter.

“Since these nurses have been out of work for the past two years and out of the national health-care system in preparation for their German job offers, finances of the nurses have  also virtually dried up,” according to recruitment consultant Manny Geslani.

“Their German employers who funded their language studies and who sent them allowances to tide them over while waiting for the government to lift the deployment ban to Germany have grown tired of waiting,” he added.

The nurses took 10 to 12 months to study the language, with a few retakes, and have been issued visas for Germany.

“However, with the onset of the deployment ban for health-care workers [HCWs], the nurses could no longer pursue their overseas travel.”

Right from the start, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. had opposed the deployment ban as unconstitutional, noting that those with already perfected contracts should not be held back from flying, as they have spent considerable effort and resources. Moreover, he said, allowing nurses to honor their contracts boosts the country’s goodwill with other countries whose cooperation it has sought during the pandemic.

Senator JV Ejercito last week asked the IATF to lift the ban, noting, in a tweet, “some facts regarding the issue on the ban on healthcare workers particularly nurses.”

He said there are more than half a million nurses in the country, but both public and private hospitals can only employ 89,000.

“It will be cruel not to let the 400 thousand nurses seek employment, currently idle, lift the ban,” Ejercito said.

In one of his tweets, Locsin revealed that nurses who have just graduated have to pay hospitals in order to gain experience.

The Filipino Nurses United on September 10 said that health-care workers had the right to pursue higher salaries overseas and that the Philippines would not have a shortage of nurses should it allow healthcare professionals to work abroad.

An article in The Diplomat said, “Nurses and medical technologists in the Philippines receive the lowest salaries in Southeast Asia,” quoting the data aggregator iPrice Group. The study found that experienced nurses make only around P40,381 ($831) per month.

The average monthly salary in local hospitals can be P10,000, or $206, according to the country’s labor department.

Policy decision

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the overseas deployment ban on nurses hews to the government’s Covid-19 task force decision “to ensure that the country’s health-care requirements are fully met.”

It was implemented by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) through its Governing Board Resolution No. 9 adopted in April, he said.

A netizen who said she belongs to a group of what they call Priso-nurses tweeted Locsin: “Please help us, Sir, this deployment ban can ruin our dreams and our family’s future, and we did our application before the pandemic, there are jobs waiting for us abroad. I hope we would not get included on the list of unemployed.”

The Philippines and Germany have a government-to-government agreement for the deployment of skilled and qualified nurses to Germany, with the participation of the private sector.

Nurses in Germany earn at least €2,700 monthly or the equivalent of P160,000.

Geslani said there are more than 1,400 Filipino nurses currently working in Germany, “who are highly appreciated by their hospitals.”

Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. President Raquel Bracero said there are about 2,000 nurses bound for Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, the US and Canada, “who are in the pipeline and ready to be deployed once the ban is lifted by the government.”

Image credits: AP/Bullit Marquez


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