Coronavirus: Did British PM Boris Johnson pay tribute to Philippine nurses working in UK with this T-shirt?
South China Morning Post
Johnson was diagnosed with coronavirus in April and was hospitalised in London before being moved to intensive care. Upon recovery, he paid tribute to NHS staff who he said “saved my life, no question”.
The UK has so far recorded about 250,000 infections and more than 35,000 deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, placing unprecedented strain on the country’s health system, which relies heavily on Philippine staff.
Ken Lambatan, a 34-year-old Philippine research nurse working in London, was among the casualties earlier this month, dying after contracting the virus.
On Twitter, Reyna Elena wrote: “Thank you Sir for honoring the efforts of Filipino nurses, doctors, and other healthcare frontliners in UK!”
Another user, PrisoNurse_Mikee, wrote: “Boris Johnson dons a Phil Shirt. It may be a symbolic sign to appreciate the Filipino Nurses.”
The Philippines produced an annual average of about 26,000 licensed nurses from 2012 to 2016, according to government data. About 18,500 moved abroad each year during the same period, attracted by better pay and conditions.
There are an estimated 200,000 Filipinos living in the UK, including about 21,000 health care workers employed by the NHS and other private hospitals.
The prospect of Brexit, which will make it harder for nurses from European countries to remain in the UK, has exacerbated the dependence on staff from the Philippines.
A report commissioned last year by the Cavendish Coalition, a group of health and social care organisations, said Britain faces a shortage of 40,000 nurses, which could become 50,000 after Brexit
.As of June 2018, 16 per cent of nursing jobs in hospitals and community health services were held by foreigners – nearly a quarter of whom were Filipinos.
The Philippines, which has recorded more than 13,000 infections and almost 850 casualties during the coronavirus pandemic, has been struggling to meet its own health care staffing needs
.The nation has six doctors for every 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation, among the lowest in the region.
Last month the Philippines banned doctors, nurses and other health works leaving for overseas work. Some workers attempting to fly back to the UK were blocked at Manila airport.
In the hilippines, state and major private hospitals can offer starting salaries of about 25,000 pesos (US$493) a month, but in the provinces, pay can be as low as 3,000 to 6,000 pesos, according to non-profit nursing advocacy group Ang Nars. A nurse could earn about five times more than the top salary abroad, especially in the US and Saudi Arabia.