by Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau | 02/19/2013 12:33 PM
LONDON - For the past weeks, locals and hospital staff across London have been protesting against the austerity measures of the National Health Service (NHS).
NHS cuts include closing selected A&E wards and acute services, downgrading of hospitals, redundancies and downgrading of salaries. In 2011, more than 30,000 NHS workers lost their jobs.
"We're fighting this because we believe that there is money to be found to invest in local health service, so we don't have to suffer from these life threatening cuts," Carlo Nero, chair of Save Our Hospital Campaign, said.
Because of the cuts, some Pinoy nurses are facing salary downgrade while others are forced to re-apply for their posts.
"Sa unit namin kung sampu kaming band 6, dalawa lang ang kukunin or you will go through interview para ma -retain ninyo ang current position ninyo," said Bien del Mundo, an NHS nurse.
"Kung mada-down grade ako, ang suweldo ko liliit. Maapektuhan ang family ko back home sa Pilipinas kasi ang ipapadala namin liliit," said another NHS nurse Lester Najera.
It may seem that the salary downgrade is better than redundancies but they feel the cuts came at the worst possible time.
"So siyempre napakalaking impact yun financially para sa pamilya mo. Paano yun ilang taon ka sa current position mo tapos bababa pa ang suweldo mo. Di na rin kami makaka -cope up sa daily needs namin," del Mundo said.
This year, the NHS is hit with the longest budget freeze penned in to last until 2015, which means frozen salaries for Pinoy nurses in the coming years.
"Di na nga tumaas ang suweldo mo, ang mga presyo ng bilihin is not going any lower, pataas ng pataas- everything, housing and all. Halos wala ng matira sa iyo," NHS nurse Donna Prima-Negrito said.
"Nakakabigla rin para sa min kasi sa hirap ng buhay ngayon," Edwin Rebenque, medical worker at NHS, said.
The flatlining UK economy is taking a toll on Pinoy nurses. But they want to remain optimistic and hope for growth and recovery of the economy. They believe any further drastic austerity measures in the health services will send them and the NHS in the emergency unit.