Hospital system budget cuts shows people’s health ‘not a priority of this government’: workers union

·2 min read

Following a proposal to slash the 2023 budget for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) under the budget allocation for the University of the Philippines (UP) system, a workers’ union has called on the government to double the hospital’s working budget to PHP10 billion (US$177.77 million) instead.

Under the proposed PHP5.268-trillion budget proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the UP System, which PGH receives its funding from, is expected to receive PHP23.1 billion — PHP2.5 billion less than its current budget of PHP25.6 billion. The government’s premier hospital is set to receive PHP893 million less next year.

Also absent from the proposal is the budget to complete construction on the hospital’s PHP200-million multispecialty building. The building is meant to house PGH’s neuroscience department, as well as fields such as oncology, psychiatry, and ophthalmology, according to UP’s Philippine Collegian.

A PHP10-billion budget for PGH would translate to providing more medical assistance to indigent patients and more funding for the upgrade of hospital facilities, Karen Faurillo, president of the All UP Workers Union-Manila/PGH said.

The hospital caters to 600,000 patients each year, 98 percent of whom are indigent.

Doubling the fund for the hospital could also enable PGH to hire an additional 500 nurses with permanent positions and regularize some 300 contractual and job order employees.

“PGH is known as a premier training hospital and ‘Ospital ng Bayan’ (hospital of the masses). [The] budget cut is a clear indication that people’s health is not a priority of this government,” Faurillo said.

One of the top training hospitals for medical professionals in the country, PGH is also designated as the national COVID-19 referral hospital.

UP’s potential budget cuts are contrasted by an overall increase in funding for education and health services within the proposed PHP5.268 trillion budget for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s term.