The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill prohibiting public and private hospitals from requiring payment of money from registered nurses who want to gain work experience, a press release from Congress said.
House Bill 5445 seeks to prevent the exploitation of registered nurses who are serving as nurse volunteers in any public or private hospital.
The bill was endorsed for plenary approval by the House Committee on Health chaired by Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ., 2 nd District), the press release said.
It substituted House Bill 767 authored by Rep. Edgar San Luis (Laguna, 4 th District).
With the decline of demands for nurses in the United States and the United Kingdom , more and more nursing graduates end up unemployed while many of them shifted to work in call centers, retail stores and other non-professional positions, San Luis said.
Those who are lucky enough to obtain employment abroad usually end up as caregivers, dental assistants and nursing aides, he added.
San Luis said the lack of employment opportunities for nurses in the country makes them vulnerable to become victims of unscrupulous practices of some hospitals which demand payment in exchange for the necessary work experience required working abroad.
"This is plain and simple exploitation. No matter how the hospital administrators call the pernicious practice, whether it is training, skills building, volunteer work or whatever, it is unfair to the nurses and their parents who toiled hard and spent money just so their children will become nurses," he said.
The bill penalizes violators with one year imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.
The measure mandates the Department of Health and the Professional Regulation Commission Board of Nursing to assess all the training programs for registered nurses that are being implemented in hospitals, the press release said.
The bill provides that only those programs accredited by the DOH and the PRC Board of Nursing shall be implemented and allowed to charge corresponding fees.
It also guarantees that any nurse volunteer who was required to pay the hospital shall be entitled to a refund of the full amount paid to the hospital plus interests of six percent per annum until the amount is fully paid.
A salary equivalent to Salary Grade 11 shall be paid by the hospital for services rendered, the press release said.*