The Search for Nurses Ends in Manila
Ching, Cheryl D., The Next American City
FILIPINO NURSES PERUSINGTHE JOB secTION OF The Philippine Daily Inquirer will surely come across several advertisements enticing them to work overseas. One such ad, placed by the Brooklyn-based recruiting agency White Glove, attracts them with taglines of praise and support: "You are the solution, and at White Glove, that's the way we treat you," and "Join the White Glove Family. We care for you while you care for others."If these assurances are not enough to convince nurses to pick up the phone and place the long-distance phone call to Brooklyn, White Glove proposes additional incentives-monetary bonuses, careers in the "world's greatest hospitals in New York,"the processing of immigration paperwork, and free airfare and housing. White Glove offers freedom, pure and simple-a promise communicated by two juxtaposed images: a young, smiling Filipino woman and the Statue of Eiberty. The advertisement reflects a global challenge that has enmeshed Eondon, Manila, and New York: a dramatic shortage of nurses.
Although nursing shortages are, at a basic level, local problems experienced at any number of town or city hospitals, they have national and international ramifications. Take London hospitals, for example-in particular those run by the National Health Service (NHS). Established by the national government in 1948 to provide healthcare to all British citizens, the NHS is primarily funded by taxpayers' money and is currently the largest organization in Europe, employing one million people in England alone. Two years ago, it was reported that turnover and vacancy rates of registered nursing staff in Eondon NHS hospitals were, respectively, one-third and one-half higher than the national average. Nurses' complaints ran the gamut of low pay, administrative bureaucracy, inadequate staffing, depressed workplace morale, and a lack of affordable housing.
The NHS decided to tackle the housing question as a means of address in g the nursing shortage. The search for reasonably priced housing in Eondon is as brutal as in New York, especially for nurses with starting salaries of £17,300 a year-or about $30,000 annually. So the NHS began to offer some assistance, including a cost of living supplement of up to £1,000 (about $1700). Then the NHS stepped into the role of housing developer, teaming up with housing associations, local authorities, and the private sector to come up with alternative housing solutions for their nurses. In 2000, the NHS supported the renovation of Pentland House, a former student dormitory in south London, into a 125-room residence hall for nurses. Total rent is £328 (about $380) a month, which, by London standards, is a steal. In addition, the NHS created the Accommodations Bureau, a database that matches nurses with available housing options.
As helpful as these efforts are, addressing the issue of housing affordability has not spelled complete success for the NHS. By all accounts, it is but a band-aid solution to the multitude of issues battering and bruising Britain's healthcare system.
Take the women's movement, for example. Over the last few decades, women have gained access to a whole slew of professional occupations long denied the so-called second sex. As a result, occupations conventionally considered "women's work,"like nursing, have taken a massive blow. The situation only gets worse when the "demographic double-whammy" is taken into account. James Buchan, Professor at Queen Margaret University College in Ldinburgh and frequent commentator on the nursing problem in the U.K., reckons that the aging of the population and workforce in developed countries such as the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the U.S., is further compounding the gravity of the nursing shortage situation by increasing the demand for nursing services at the same time that most current nurses begin to retire.
While the NHS is trying to find ways to increase efficiency with …
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Publication information: Article title: The Search for Nurses Ends in Manila. Contributors: Ching, Cheryl D. - Author. Magazine title: The Next American City. Issue: 4 Publication date: January 1, 2004. Page number: 21+. © The Next American City, Inc. Summer 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.