The Nurses Union of Thailand (NUOT), a PSI affiliate, have been advocating the government for increased compensation for public nurses, which rightly reflect the level of their profession (should be at par with workers and officials and other ministries) and the personal risks that they face as they perform high-risk jobs. The current pay structure. The union says, does not meet either the Thai Nursing Council standard nor labour law requirements. They also call for incentive mechanisms that would stem the tide of movement to private hospitals which are known to offer better compensation than public ones.
Public Nurses face so much personal risks as they carry out their duties which include home visits and care and accompanying high-risk patients in hospital transfers.
The current pay structure. The union says, does not meet either the Thai Nursing Council standard nor labour law requirements.
At the time of our visit at the end of January 2019 at Isan region’s Non Sung District Hospital, a secondary hospital some 300 kms from the capital Bangkok, the region was closely monitoring a suspected novel coronavirus – COVID–19 – patientat a hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Thailand’s northeastern region’s biggest province. Since the first diagnosis of the virus on a Thai person, the government has been swift in enacting measures to prevent further spread, much to relief of residents and healthcare workers alike.
At the Non Sung District Hospital alone, there are only 14 doctors and 70 nurses (another 30 deployed across the seven primary healthcare facilities under the jurisdiction of the district hospital) attending to a population of 170, 000. The ideal figure according to the hospital director would have been 28 doctors and 100 nurses working at a hospital currently with 60 beds and catering to the needs of around 500 outpatients each day.
The country’s health system, while lauded globally as among the most prepared to deal with an epidemic, is also, as it stands, overburden and understaffed – a common lament among Thailand’s health workers
But can the government much admired around the world for its universal healthcare system provide much needed TLC to its overworked and undercompensated healthcare workers?