Congress tackles Comprehensive Nursing Law anew

The House of Representatives tackled on Wednesday, October 4 the bill that would provide a new comprehensive nursing law which seeks to upgrade the country's nursing profession and gear towards a quality health care system.

In a hearing by House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation headed by Batangas representative Marvey MariƱo, members deliberated and approved a substitute bill which will take the place of House Bills filed by Reps. Maximo Rodriguez (HB 1693), Carlos Isagani T. Zarate (HB 2548), Vilma Santos Recto (HB 2602) and Emmeline Y. Aglipay Villar (HB 3110) on the same subject matter.

Bills of Rodriguez, Zarate and Villar seeks to enact a new nursing law, while Santos-Recto's proposal intends to amend the current law by introducing reforms to further protect and develop the nursing profession.

Also present on the initial deliberation were Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) president Annie Enriquez Geron, Professional Regulatory Board of Nursing (PR-BON) chair Glenda Arquiza, PR-BON member Carfreda Dumlao and Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) national president Ruth Thelma Tingda. Representatives of Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and Filipino Nurses United (FNU) also attended the hearing.

The Comprehensive Nursing Law which was supposed to repeal the Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 was finally approved in Congress and Senate last year, but it was vetoed by former president Noynoy Aquino right before he finished his term.

House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation discussing the bill on proposed new nursing law. Photo by Sean Velchez.

The unnumbered substitute bill which was approved by Congress has some of the following salient points:
* Salary Grade 15 (Php 27,565) for entry level nurses working in public and private health institutions
* It is the duty of the APO, the accredited specialty organizations, etc. to provide FREE continuing professional development program to its members
* Admission to the basic program for nursing education requires passing a NATIONAL NURSING ADMISSION TEST (NNAT)
* PROHIBITED ACTS include contracting or availing of the services of a nurse without salary or allowance or salary below the applicable wage in this act, contracting or availing of the services of a volunteer nurse under the pre-text of OJT, contract of service and job orders in order to fill-up a vacant position, collecting any fee from a nurse in exchange of the nurse's voluntary services in health facility, etc.

Commenting on the Zarate bill, Talisay District Hospital chief nurse Harby Abellanosa said that he find it promising as it sets a clear definition of Nursing Service Management, Nursing Personnel System and the standard Nurse-Patient Ratio; upgrades the salary, incentives and benefits, and tackles the Advance Practice Nursing Program.

You may read the full text of HB 2548 here:

Filipino nurses fully support those provisions and the new bill, are hopeful that it will be finally approved into law by Duterte administration. [via Jen Fabros of PSLINK, Harby Abellanosa]

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