House Resolution: Requiring Registered Nurses to pay a Training fee is Criminal act

Italian nurses June 2007. Nurses June 2007.Image via WikipediaLawmakers today endorsed the passage of a bill declaring as a criminal act the practice of requiring registered nurses to pay a training fee to the hospitals where they are voluntarily working to gain work experience.

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela) said it is about time such an exploitative practice of many hospitals in the country is stopped. 

"It is only in the Philippines where a nurse who only wants to gain experience is required to pay while doing a full time job in the hospitals," Ilagan said during a nurses' forum recently sponsored by the Committee on Women and Gender Equality at the House of Representatives. 

"These hospitals are getting free services from these registered nurses while also earning money from them," Ilagan said. 

"I believe that registered nurses are capable and skilled health care professionals who can execute procedures following the completion of a four year Bachelor's Course in Nursing and do not need further training for purposes of employment," Ilagan declared.

Rep. Emmi de Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela) called on President Aquino to immediately stop the exploitative practice of collecting training fees from registered nurses under various forms of volunteer training programs by hospitals.

De Jesus said nurses are required by hospitals to pay P3,000 to P8,000 for a 3- to-5 month service in exchange for a certification of working experience. 

"Hospitals that require payments from nurses who volunteer their service for free, degrade the service oriented skilled health care professionals," said De Jesus in House Resolution 861, which was referred to the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulations.

"Under the Constitution, no one should work without pay. Involuntary servitude is punishable by law," said Rep. Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar), Chairman of the House Committee on Labor.

"Paying fee for volunteerism is worst than slavery and it is incomprehensible to know such kind of abuse still exists in this modern time on our health care professionals from institutions whom we trust our lives with when we get sick," Ong said.

Teresita Irigo-Barcelo, National President of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), who was present during forum, said there are about 257,296 unemployed and underemployed registered nurses in the country.

At present, Barcelo said there is only one nurse attending to the needs of every 40 patients in government hospitals. The right ratio under the Guidelines on the Licensure and Standards for Hospitals for Regulatory Officer is one nurse for every 12 patients.

The lawmakers pushing the passage of the proposed measure penalizing hospitals that require payments from registered nurses who want to gain work experience in hospitals.

Under the bill, violators face a fine of P500,000 and imprisonment of not more than one year.