PGH needs more doctors as volunteers are not renewing contracts

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country's main hospital in the fight against COVID-19, is facing manpower problems as its volunteer doctors decided not to renew their contracts.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart on Monday, September 13, PGH spokesperson Jonas del Rosario said this was worsened by health workers getting sick and doing mandatory quarantine due to virus exposure.

"So if you take this altogether on top of some healthcare workers who decided not to renew their contracts, and understandably so. They have been helping us for almost a year. So if you will take this into account and a lot of patients are coming in, we're operating on full capacity, our manpower is already stretched out," he said.

Del Rosario said that it's "well-known that a lot of our frontliners are resigning and they are taking the jobs being offered in first-world countries."

"They are of big help, these DOH (Department of Health) volunteer doctors. We had 25 over the course of a year. We are really grateful for these DOH doctors. These are mostly general medical doctors who volunteered and their salary was paid by DOH. Over the course of a year, maybe they have other plans already," he said.

As the country deals with the fresh surge in infections driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, health workers who are on the front lines continue to suffer from poor working conditions and delayed benefits. 

Frustrated health workers recently took to the streets to demand the release of their long overdue COVID-19 benefits. 

"They are doing extra work. As some say, they're putting their lives on the line here. They really want them to be compensated and you hear stories na even the basic hazard pay, their special risks allowance are delayed," Del Rosario said.

He added, "You really have to raise their salary because they’re doing extra work. They're risking their lives."

In separate interview with CNN Philippines, Del Rosario said that only five doctors are left while the 20 others decided not to renew their contracts due to various reasons.

'Beyond' capacity

"We have about 320 beds allotted for PGH. We are beyond capacity. We have 310 in hospitals, about 40 patients waiting in the emergency room," Del Rosario said, adding that there were 200 patients waiting to get admitted.

He reiterated that the problem of hospitals is lack of enough health workers who will treat COVID-19 patients.

"Hospitals have beds. The problem is manpower. I hope we can tap more people. We're like in a war, we need more soldiers," Del Rosario said.

"We're appealing to doctors who are free to help us," he added.

As of September 13, the Philippines has 2,248,071 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 35,307 deaths and 2,032,471 recoveries. Of the total, 180,293 are active or currently sick. –

Editor's Note: All Filipino quotes were translated into English.

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.