Bangkok Post

Nurses asked to defer mass resignatio­ns


Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatay­adorn yesterday called on more than 10,000 public hospital nurses to defer their resignatio­n plan after the cabinet earlier rejected the ministry’s request to grant them civil servant status.

Dr Piyasakol asked the nurses, who are currently granted the status of temporaril­y contracted state employees, to be patient and carry on with their work, saying he understood how difficult their duties were.

He said he will meet Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam next week to find a solution to the issue.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also expressed concern over the nurses’ reaction to the move and instructed him to clear the matter up satisfacto­rily, saying the ministry and government can further discuss the issue if necessary.

Dr Piyasakol said about 400,000 permanent civil servants are attached to the ministry. Some 10,000 have retired and these vacant positions could theoretica­lly be allocated to the nurses, he said.

The problem is the vacant positions have to be spread out among a range of health personnel under the ministry, not just nurses, said Dr Piyasakol.

The public health minister’s comments came after more than 10,000 nurses who now work for public hospitals and state health units nationwide — but are not given permanent civil servant status — have threatened to leave their posts.

They plan to do so at the end of September, the end of the 2017 fiscal year, in protest against Tuesday’s cabinet decision.

Meanwhile, deputy permanent secretary for health Somsak Akksilp said yesterday the proposed number of permanent civil servants was calculated based on the number of personnel required for the ministry during 2018-2020, or about 3,000 positions per year.

Krisada Saweangdee, a vice-president of the Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council, said about 4,000 temporary nurses land jobs at public hospitals each year.

About 800 of them, especially those who have worked for less than three years, leave to work for private hospitals each year because they are not appointed as permanent civil servants.

Rungthiwa Panomkae, a nurse at Roi Et Hospital who also serves as a coordinato­r of a northeaste­rn-based registered nursed network, said she felt dishearten­ed by the cabinet resolution.

She and other temporary nurses have worked hard to be appointed as permanent civil servants, she said.

As such, about 500 temporary registered nurses are gathering informatio­n in preparatio­n to submit a petition seeking help from the prime minister.

Ms Rungthiwa said that whether the planned September resignatio­ns go ahead depends on the public health minister.

Also yesterday, Deputy PM Wissanu said the government earlier approved a number of permanent civil servant positions proposed by the ministry, adding it was up to the agency to manage the allocation­s properly.

Mr Wissanu said he wanted nurses to review an explanatio­n given by the Office of the Civil Service Commission which oversaw the issue, adding that budgetary concerns were only one factor in the cabinet’s decision and that should be taken into account.

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