Saudi needs 60,000 staff, nurses for its hospitals

A TOP Saudi Arabian hospital is interviewing Filipino nurses here to fill 60,000 hospital positions in the Kingdom in the next six months, an executive said yesterday.

“Even with the economic crisis, the demand for nurses and other medical staff in the Middle East is very high and very urgent,” said Lito Soriano, a senior officer of LBS E-Recruitment Solution.

“Unlike in the United States, the projected need for nurses in the Middle East is immediate.”

Soriano said the King Fahd Medical Center was only one of many Saudi hospitals looking for Filipino nurses, and that its officials were here to interview candidates.

He said King Fahd had only recently hired two Philippine recruitment agencies to fill up its vacancies.

“The top priorities in Saudi are security and health,” Soriano said.

“Its ministries of defense, aviation and health, which operate government hospitals, are doing the hiring not just for nurses but for technical medical workers like x-ray technicians, respiratory technicians and the like.”

Soriano said Saudi Arabia was paying $600 to $1,000 a month in basic salaries “on top of free housing, free transportation and yearly vacation.”

The Kingdom had only recently increased its inflation allowance to 10 percent from 5 to preserve its workers’ purchasing power, he said.

Soriano, also executive director of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, said his group was urging President Arroyo to grant indefinite visas to foreign principals employing Filipino workers.

Mrs. Arroyo recently signed Executive Order 758, which grants indefinite visas to foreign businessmen who hire 10 or more Filipinos for their businesses here.

Soriano said his group hoped the President would extend the same privilege to foreigners recruiting for their respective countries. Michael Caber with Arlie Calalo

City Hemorrhages Filipino American Nurses

Expect San Francisco government employee unions to turn the screws up on incoming supervisors - particularly Eric Mar and David Chiu - after the latest layoffs. Although the city budget is more than $6 billion, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the board face its inflexibility, having to make cuts in a shrinking $1.2 billion discretionary portion of the budget and bridging a $700 million shortfall for the current and next fiscal year. Mar and Chiu were heavily supported by labor in November’s elections. They were among the earliest to be endorsed by the S.F. Labor Council, which buoyed the two over mayoral-supported candidates Sue Lee of the Chinese Historical Society of America and Claudine Cheng of the Treasure Island Development Authority, while snubbing Alicia Wang, former local American Federation of Teachers political director. Mar and Chiu will ascend to office in January after the mayor handed out 409 pink slips, including 285 from the Public Health Department in December…One hundred and sixty-five of those Public Health layoffs were registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and nursing assistants; Filipino Americans likely bore the brunt of the first layoffs, given their disproportionate numbers among nurses…. FILAMs IN NURSING: According to a 2006 Department of Human Resources report, FilAms comprised 41.5 percent of San Francisco’s 1,108 registered nurses, 55.9 percent of 213 LVNs and 68.1 percent of 574 nursing assistants. Non-Filipino Asian Americans made up 11.3 percent of RNs, 6.6 percent of LVNs and 5.1 percent of Nursing Aides…

OVERALL APA CIVIL SERVICE: 35 percent of more than 27,000 city workers were APA as of 2006. Driving calls for a pay freeze are city employees who in 2008-09 averaged $91,404 in wages and $28,513 in benefits totaling $119,917 - up from $74,475 and $23,590 totaling $98,065 for 2005-06, according to the City Controller….Per capita income for a San Franciscan is $43,013, according to the U.S. Census’ 2007 American Community Survey…

THREE’S NOT COMPANY: The third supervisor, Carmen Chu, is considered a moderate and ally of Mayor Gavin Newsom. Although San Francisco elected an unprecedented three APAs - Chiu, Mar and Chu - to district supervisor in November, history indicates that they will not coalesce in the polarized politics of San Francisco. Before the end of the millennium, an unprecedented three APAs were elected citywide: Michael Yaki, Mabel Teng and Leland Yee. However, they did not see eye to eye. Maverick Yee clashed with liberals Yaki and Teng, who were part of a pro-Mayor Willie Brown majority until their ouster in the 2000 elections… Newsom will count on four of eleven total votes to sustain any board overrides. Expect him to look to moderates and his former appointees Chu, Sean Elsbernd and Michaela Alioto-Pier. Newsom can then find a fourth vote from the remaining supes, particularly Bevan Dufty or Sophie Maxwell…

TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE: Commend College Board member Lawrence Wong and the winning coalition of Friends of Education Opportunities in Chinatown which bridged the Chinese American political spectrum of institutions - from Chinese for Affirmative Action to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. They won the final legal settlement last month to build the 14-story, $146 million campus on a site in between four decades Chinatown-Manilatown land use battlefields of the revamped International Hotel and Financial District’s Hilton Hotel…. SILENCE IS GOLDEN: Former College Board members Lillian Sing and Julie Tang courageously walked a fine line between their devotion to community colleges system while upholding their judicial canons of ethics. As superior court judges, the two could not express their opinion for or against the campus. Nevertheless, with sleazy tactics over the campus, Sing and Tang were physically present as beacons of moral authority at the height of the debate while maintaining their impartiality without swinging their gavels…
ITEM LAST: As this column resolves annually, my resolution is to end all resolutions….


Reach Samson Wong at swong@asianweek.com.

Overseas nurse says new rule is unfair


4:00AM Saturday Jan 03, 2009
By Lincoln Tan


Ruby Lat is having trouble getting her nursing registration approved. Photo / Martin Sykes

Trained Filipino nurses are crying foul over the Nursing Council's tightening of rules governing registering overseas-trained nurses.

They say the new requirements are prejudicial and unfair and are keeping them at unskilled jobs on the minimum wage when hospitals are facing an acute shortage of nurses.

In new requirements effective from Thursday, all overseas-qualified nurses - including those from Britain and other English-speaking countries - will face a tough English language assessment.

It will require they score 7.0 in each band of the IELTS (International English language testing system) test, higher than the current university entry requirement of 6.0.

But the biggest stumbling block for many Filipino nurses is a recent ruling by the council that nursing degree courses of less than four years will no longer be deemed eligible.

For most of the Philippines-trained nurses, nursing was their second course, and the length of time they took to complete it was reduced because they had exemption for certain subjects taken for a previous degree.

Agnes Granada, co-ordinator for Migrant Action Trust, said it was common for Filipino workers to do a degree in nursing as a second course because they saw the global nursing shortage as their ticket out of the Philippines.

Ms Granada said she knew of trained nurses who had been medical doctors back in the Philippines who could not be registered here.

Ruby Lat, a former dentist-turned-nurse, said the council requirements were totally ridiculous and unfair.

"I feel it is just the council's way of protecting nursing jobs for the locals," said Mrs Lat, who could find work only as a healthcare assistant at Auckland's North Shore Hospital on a pay of $16 an hour instead of $25 an hour as a registered nurse. Another, who wanted to be known only as Reginald, believed the requirement was to protect nursing jobs for the locals.

"How many of the local nurses would even be able to get 7.0 in IELTS anyway. It is just not a level playing field."

Rodney Faulkner, director of A1 Care 24-7, which recruits nurses overseas for local hospitals and district health boards, says the new registration is stupid and will just add to New Zealand's loss.

Mr Faulkner said "there seems to be a huge miscarriage of justice" when a trained nurse he recruited, who also held a doctor's degree in of medicine and topped his university in the Philippines, was not considered good enough for this country.

Hospitals are facing nursing shortages. In November, Auckland City Hospital blamed nurse shortages for a big rise in the number of people wait-listed for heart surgery.

The Nursing Council could not be contacted for comment.

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