Nurses rally to seek answers over delay to civil job status

Govt vows to act amid mass resignation threat

About 1,000 professional nurses rallied outside Government House yesterday demanding an explanation for delays in the government's promise to give them civil servant employment status that would offer them better work benefits.

About 1,000 professional nurses from state hospitals rally outside Government House yesterday demanding to know why a promise to give them civil servant employment status has not yet been delivered. APICHART JINAKUL

The nurses are currently employed as either temporary or permanent non-civil servant staff at state hospitals throughout the country, due to a lack of civil servant position quotas.

On June 19, Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri pledged to begin including the first batch of 3,667 out of about 17,000 non-civil servant nurses in the civil servant employment system within three months.

But the change has yet to take place and the nurses now want an explanation from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Sarawuth Theedee, president of the network of non-civil servant nurses, said many non-civil servant nurses at state hospitals are required to work 16 hours a day, as the hospitals do not have enough money to hire enough nurses.

This increased the risk of mistakes which could affect patients, he said.

Supannee Kaewthep, a professional nurse who is employed as a permanent non-civil servant staff member at the Crown Prince Hospital in Nan province, said her current employment status had many disadvantages including limited pay rises, career path, and opportunities to pursue further training.

Prasit Chaiwirat, a deputy secretary-general to the prime minister, and permanent secretary for public health Narong Sahamethapat came out to meet the nurses.

They insisted Ms Yingluck was aware of the matter and had told state agencies to get a move on.

The Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC) and the National Budget Bureau were still working on the details and a clearer picture was expected next month. The change should take effect by year's end, said Mr Prasit.

As for those nurses who would not be made civil servants in this round of changes, proposals were being made to compensate them with equal work benefits including a 15,000 baht starting salary, he said.

The demonstrators agreed to disperse but said they would follow up on the promise. They also threatened to resign en masse if the change does not take effect next month.

More than 1,000 nurses have already signed their names to support the resignation threat.

Mr Witthaya said his ministry had met former deputy prime minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, who oversaw the OCSC, to discuss the possibility of increasing the quota for ministry health personnel over the next five years.

The plan aims to add more than 70,000 permanent positions from 21 professional fields, which would give 17,230 nurses access to government benefits.

But since Mr Yongyuth resigned this month, the process had been interrupted, Mr Witthaya said.

He said Ms Yingluck had promised to adjust the overall government personnel structure to solve problem.

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Writer: Patsara Jikkham & Paritta Wangkiat