‘Nurse hiring in UK stable despite budget cuts’

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
Filipino nurse recruitment in Britain should remain stable amid cuts on immigration and public spending in the UK, said the Philippine embassy in London.
Speaking from an event at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex, embassy officials welcomed newly recruited nurses and reassured other nurses from the Philippines that job opportunities in the UK should continue to become available.
“So far, the UK is not shutting its doors to foreign workers,” said Atty. Jainal Rasul, Labor Attache at the Philippine embassy in London, in an interview with The Filipino Channel.
He continued: “It has not declared any ban in the hiring of foreign workers, especially nurses. There will be reductions, of course, due to some changes, but in the long term, there will be more nurses coming in due to shortages of nurses right within the UK.”
He added that recent changes in British immigration policies should not alarm Filipino migrants who are already in the UK.
“As announced by the UK Border Agency, for those already in the UK - nurses, senior carers, and other professionals - they will not be affected by the proposed interim or permanent limit of the UK government,” he explained.
In 2011, the British government will implement changes over immigration and public spending, both of which could affect overseas recruitment in the UK, including nurses and other skilled workers from the Philippines.
Media reports suggest that an immigration cap will be implemented in the UK from April 2011, which means that only 21,700 skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area will be allowed entry into its borders, a cut of approximately 6,300 compared to 2009.
The government will also dramatically reduce its public spending budget, including a cut of £2.3 billion from the National Health Service, which funds most of the hospitals in the UK.
The cuts are fueled by financial problems caused by the recent global recession.
World-Class Nurses
Despite the cuts, the Philippine embassy is optimistic in the stability of nurse recruitment from the Philippines due to the quality of work delivered by Filipino nurses.
“The feedback has been very positive. We’ve heard officials of the UK government commending us on the hard work, dedication and competence of our Filipino nurses, and we’re very happy about those comments,” revealed Reynaldo Catapang, Charges d’Affaires at the Philippine embassy in London.
There are currently 50,000 Filipino nurses working in hospitals all over Britain, including 100 nurses at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).
“We’ve successfully recruited a whole batch of Filipino nurses 10 years ago. A lot of those nurses are still with us, and enjoying their period with us,” said Gerald Coteman, Chairman of PAH.
He added: “They’ve learnt a great deal and they’re contributing significantly to services that we provide here. We’ve gone out a second time to recruit from that source, and we’re very pleased with the Filipino nurses that joined us 10 years ago that we felt we’d have more of the same. We really welcome these additional nurses, and hopefully they’ll be fitting in and enjoying their time with us.”
Terry Lopez-Bishop from Bataan is one of the success stories at PAH. Trained at Saint Louis University in Baguio City, she has consistently impressed her employers and colleagues since her recruitment in 2000. She has been promoted consistently and is now a ward manager at the hospital.
“At first, it was a shock, because it’s totally different from back home,” she revealed. “The important thing to remember is we have to learn from each other - what you can give and what you can learn from another culture - and put it all together to whatever will be helpful to the patients and the hospital as well.”
She added: “Filipino nurses are able to adapt well, I believe, with the culture in here, and integrate well into the hospital and how it works in meeting standards and the needs of the patients and of the country.”
Thousands of Filipino nurses continue to aspire to work in the UK and other Western countries for the life-changing opportunities it affords.
“I would like to adapt here, have career progression, and inspire others, especially my colleagues back in the Philippines,” explained Sheila Dalubar, one of the newly recruited nurses at PAH.
She continued: “I wanted to come in here and explore the job opportunities that the UK is offering, and to some day bring my family here as well to enjoy the life that I’m enjoying right now. It’s been good so far because most of the people in here are really supportive and approachable, especially in the ward that I’m working in.”
According to Lopez-Bishop, the key to success as a nurse is an “open mind” and a helpful attitude.
“My advice is just be open. Do not unlearn what you have learned before. Meet halfway, and see what you can contribute, what you could do to help, and learn more as well. Have an open mind, because nursing itself is dynamic, it evolves. You just have to accept that the changes will be for the better of delivering services to the patients,” she concludes.
Nursing continues to be a popular career choice for young Filipinos who wish to work overseas, and despite the recent changes in UK policies, nurse recruitment from the Philippines should remain stable in the foreseeable future.

550 applicants in Japan placement shortlist

By Samuel Medenilla - mb.com.ph
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has reported that 550 applicants have made it in the shortlist for the third batch of its placement program with Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
POEA Administrator Carlos Cao said in the media forum that 300 of the applicants were nurses, while 250 were caregivers. He said the number of applicants will be further reduced to 137, which is the target number of nurses and caregivers to be deployed in Japan.
Meanwhile, POEA Welfare Deployment Office Director Nimfa De Guzman said in an interview that about 145 of the applicants for this year are from provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, which is higher compared to the previous two batches.
JPEPA is an elaborate bilateral economic cooperation pact signed by the Philippines with Japan in 2008. This includes a job order of nurses and caregivers. Under the agreement Filipino nurses and caregivers are required to undergo six-month training in Japan and take a mandatory licensure exam before they are permanently employed in Japanese hospitals.
Cao said they expect a higher number of applicants will be able to finish the direct-hiring scheme, after the Japanese International Corporation of Welfare Services (JICWELS) representatives said it will implement reforms in the language training program and mandatory examination.
“We have asked our Japanese counterparts to make adjustments without necessarily lowering the standards but to make it reasonable for Filipino applicants,” he said.
Among the reforms implemented for the program are the additional Japanese language training here in the Philippines aside from the classes, which will be held in Japan, and the inclusion of English translation of some technical terms in the Japanese licensure exam for nurses and caregivers.
De Guzman said the interview of the applicants will start on Feb. 3 to 7 at their regional centers while the deployment to Japan of the final list of candidates will be in May.

52 Fil-Am employees sue hospital for discrimination and harassment

A GROUP of 52 former and current Filipino-American hospital employees filed a lawsuit against their employer, Delano Regional Medical Center (located in the Central Valley) for discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California last December 7, 2010.The action was filed against Central California Foundation for Health/ Delano Regional Medical Center and Delano Health Associates, Inc. (collectively referred to as “DRMC” or “Defendants”).  The employees are represented by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.
The complaint states that DRMC discriminated against its Filipino-American employees because of their national origin and subjected the Filipino-American workers to severe and pervasive workplace harassment.  DRMC prohibited Filipino-American employees from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages under a broad-reaching, English-only policy.  DRMC singled out only Filipino-American employees in enforcing the policy.
Among all their employees of various ethnicities, defendants required only Filipino-American employees to attend mandatory meetings with management.  During these meetings, DRMC management told the Filipino-American employees that they were prohibited from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages at the workplace. 
DRMC reprimanded them, threatened to monitor them with audio surveillance and threatened to discipline and suspend employees who will be caught speaking Tagalog.   Defendants also encouraged other employees to report Filipino-American employees to supervisors, which created tension and hostility among employees.  Filipino-American employees were monitored, chastised and threatened by supervisors and other co-workers who constantly told them to speak English.
 During the press conference held at the APALC office in Los Angeles December 7, two of the plaintiffs, Wilma Lamug and Elnora Cayme, spoke about the unfair treatment they received from DRMC management.
“DRMC’s actions made us feel humiliated, isolated, and unvalued as employees.  Many of us, including myself, had worked hard for DRMC for ten or twenty years.   Despite our loyalty and years of service, we were shocked that DRMC singled out Filipino-American workers and blatantly discriminated against us,” said Plaintiff Wilma Lamug, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at DRMC for more than ten years.  
 Elnora Cayme, a licensed vocational nurse and respiratory therapist who has worked for DRMC for 27 years, said amid tears, “I have lived in Delano since I immigrated to the States in 1978 with my parents and siblings. DRMC is our community hospital. A majority of the hospital’s staff was made up of Filipino health care professionals. I don’t know why they treated us so unjustly, even if we were all so loyal and devoted to our jobs.”
“DRMC enforced an overly restrictive and draconian English-only policy against only its Filipino-American employees that cannot be justified by a business necessity.  As a result, DRMC created a workplace environment that was hostile towards its Filipino-American employees and unfortunately increased tensions between Filipino and non-Filipino employees,” said Julie A. Su, Litigation Director at APALC.
 APALC, on behalf of the employees, is moving to intervene in a lawsuit that was filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on August 18, 2010.  The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that DRMC’s acts of national origin discrimination and harassment violate federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). 
APALC’s complaint alleges that DRMC violated federal law as well as California state law, specifically California ’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.  The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent future discrimination, as well as financial compensation from defendants for the employees.
According to EEOC, the hospital prohibited Filipino staff from speaking Tagalog while allowing non-Filipino employees to speak other languages, such as Spanish.  “Employers must ensure that company policies are applied equally,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles Dustrict Office. “Targeting workers of a particular national origin is not only illegal, it also erodes company morale – pitting groups against one another.”
Wilma Lamug said other Filipino-Americans who are victims of discrimination should not be afraid to speak up. “Don’t keep your mouth shut. Seek help like we did,” Lamug said. Elnora Cayme added, “Huwag kayong matakot o mahiya (Don’t be afraid or embarrassed.) Speak up for your rights.”
“An employer like DRMC with a diverse clientele should view an employee’s ability to speak another language as an asset, not a disadvantage. It is reprehensible that our clients were singled out for enforcement of the English only policy and harassed. Employers need to know that this type of discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin is illegal,” said Carmina Ocampo , a staff attorney at APALC.  “We hope this case encourages other immigrant workers to do as these workers did, and stand up publicly and demand their rights.”

CHED imposes moratorium on nursing, 4 other courses

By Jerrie M. Abella/KBK - GMANews.TV
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has imposed a moratorium on the opening of new programs in nursing, business administration, teacher education, hotel and restaurant management, and information technology (IT) education effective school year 2011-2012.
The moratorium, contained in CHED Memorandum Order 32, covers undergraduate and graduate programs in the following courses:
1. Nursing (Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts/Master and Doctor of Philosophy)
2. Business Administration (Bachelor of Science, Master and Doctor in Business)
3. Teacher Education (Bachelor of Elementary and Secondary Education, Master of Arts, Doctor and Doctor of Philosophy)
4. Hotel and Restaurant Management (Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Hospitality Management)
CHED cited the increase in the number of institutions offering these programs as one of the reasons for the moratorium.
“There is already a proliferation of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) offering Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in (these courses), which if allowed to continue unabated would result in deterioration of the quality of graduates of these five higher education programs,” the commission said.
CHED also said the results of the Evaluation of Graduate Education Programs, and the licensure examinations for teachers and nurses, confirmed not only the worsening quality of graduates in these programs, but the worsening of the programs themselves too.
The commission also pointed out the “problem of mismatch currently being experienced by (a) significant number of business administration, hotel and restaurant management, and information technology graduates.”
The moratorium shall cover all public and local universities and colleges, and private HEI including those which were granted autonomous status by CHED.
The commission likewise said the moratorium on maritime education imposed last year is still in effect.
DOLE supports moratorium
In a statement, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said she is supporting the moratorium, saying it is part of the government’s efforts to shift focus to college courses that will help graduates land jobs.
“The moratorium, I believe, is a decisive action on the part of the CHED to mitigate potential oversupply of graduates in certain disciplines, and in the process, to encourage incoming students to opt for courses that offer the best chances of employment after graduation,” Baldoz said.
She said the moratorium complements the efforts of the DOLE to ensure employment of graduates, which include educating students on what courses are in demand in the labor market.
The DOLE is formulating a Philippine Human Resources Development framework which will outline strategies to attain quality graduates who will find jobs after college, Baldoz added.

Philippine Nurses Association 88th Foundation Anniversary and 53rd Nurses’ Week Celebration at the Historic Landmark Manila Hotel on October 26-28, 2010

The vital role of nurses in addressing the threat of chronic diseases to global health and well-being highlights the celebration of the 88th Foundation Anniversary of the Philippine Nurses Association and the 53rd Nurses’ Week on October 26-28, 2010, at the historic landmark Manila Hotel, with the theme “Delivering Quality, Servicing Communities: The Challenge for the Filipino Nurse Leading Chronic Care,” which has been adopted from the goal being pursued by the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) is responding to the challenge of the ICN for all nurses worldwide to lead the fight against chronic diseases, by making sure that Filipino nurses are given every opportunity to provide utmost attention and care to people with chronic conditions. With the rising trend of chronic illness, there is the need to make available appropriate and affordable care for the sick, giving them renewed hope and strength.
Chronic diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illness, cancer, and lately, Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) – are the world’s biggest killers, causing an estimated 35 million deaths each year, of which 80 percent are in developing countries. These diseases may be preventable, if detected early, but if they do occur, the needs of the patients must be met with compassion, care, and attention.
The celebration provides an opportunity for Filipino nurses to renew their vision and commitment to the uplift of their profession and the improvement of the conditions of those afflicted with chronic illness. It will also be a chance to discuss new trends and breakthroughs in the nursing profession and exchange ideas with their visiting foreign counterparts.
We congratulate the Philippine Nurses Association, headed by its President Dr. Teresita I. Barcelo, its Officers and Members, on the occasion of their 88th Foundation Day and 53rd Nurses’ Week Celebration.
We wish them all the best and success in all their endeavors. - via www.mb.com.ph

Phl seeks easing of Japan nurse hiring requirements

By Elisa Osorio - philstar.com
The Philippines will be asking for the relaxation of some of the entry requirements of Filipino nurses to Japan during the renegotiation of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) scheduled this year.
Under the current JPEPA rules, only one Filipino nurse was able to go to Japan.
“Something has to be done about this. Qualifications must be relaxed,” a ranking government official said in an interview.
Other issues that may be raised are the reduction on sugar tariff and the increased access of the country’s agricultural products such as chicken to Tokyo.
The official said the mandated renegotiations of the JPEPA have not yet started. Under the JPEPA, there must be a renegotiation five years after the agreement was signed.
However, in spite of the pressure to renegotiate, the official said it may be beneficial for the country to wait because there are also issues that the Philippine government is avoiding. For instance, the official said that the Japanese would like to bring down the tariff of 3,000 cc vehicles and below.
The official said that although the JPEPA is clear that the two governments must discuss the tariff on 3,000 cc vehicles, the agreement does not specifically say when the negotiations should be. “There is no deadline for this (negotiations on 3,000 cc vehicles),” the official said.
“The Philippines is avoiding this because we do not want to lower the tariff because it will be bad for our local manufacturers,” the official said.
Currently, the vehicles produced here are 3,000 cc and below. Once the tariff is lowered or even removed, imported counterparts may be cheaper thus killing the local auto manufacturing industry.
“We cannot afford to allow all small cars to enter without tariff,” the official said.
In an earlier interview, Assistant Trade Secretary and Director of the Bureau of International Trade Relation Ramon Vicente Kabigting said the Philippines is asking for some help from the Asian Development Bank to come up with a study on JPEPA so that the government could be guided during the review.
Kabigting explained that the five-year prescriptive review period started in September 2006 when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi signed in Helsinki, Finland the agreement and not in December 2008 when JPEPA became effective following the ratification of the Philippine Senate.
However, he cleared that the review will not lead to the Philippines’ abrogation of the treaty. He said there may be some people who would like to modify the deal.

DOH offers 10,000 nursing jobs in poor communities

Filipino nurses looking for a job can apply for a new Department of Health program that will deploy unemployed nurses to poor communities in the country.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the project RN HEALS addresses the shortage of skilled and experienced nurses in 1,221 rural and unserved or underserved communities for one year.
“It seeks to make essential health services available to all Filipinos by training and deploying 10,000 unemployed nurses in communities to be identified by the DOH in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare & Development,” he said in a statement.
Ona said nurses chosen for the project will receive P8,000 monthly allowance from the health department. He encouraged local government units where the nurses will be assigned to give an additional P2,000 worth of allowances and benefits.
Registered nurses who are physically and mentally fit, and willing to serve in their municipalities may apply online at the DOLE website (www.dole.gov.ph http://www.dole.gov.ph/) from January 17 to February 4 this year.
Preference will be given to residents of the municipalities covered by the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of DOH and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the Conditional Cash Transfer of the DSWD.
“Eventually, these nurses will be part of the pool of competent nurses for later employment or absorption in health facilities, thus addressing the inadequate supply of skilled nurses and increasing the nurses’ employment rate,” the health secretary said. - via abs-cbnNEWS.com