Nurses claim to be overworked, underpaid at private hospitals

nurse hospital
Expert young nurse tidies up hospital bed. (Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Low wages and long working hours are keeping away hundreds of Jordanian nurses from taking up jobs in private hospitals, said Khalid Al-Rababah, president of the Jordan Nurses and Midwives Council.اضافة اعلان

He told Jordan News that he objected to a call by private hospitals on the Ministry of Health to allow them to recruit nurses from abroad on ground that there is a shortage of nurses in the Kingdom.

He said there is almost 6,000 nurses who are on the waiting list of the Civil Service Bureau who are eagerly awaiting to be hired. But he added that some of them are leery of the working conditions at private Jordanian hospitals, namely due to being overworked and underpaid.

“We asked the hospitals many times to minimize the working hours for nurses to 40 per week,” he said. “We also asked them to enroll their workers in the Social Security Corporation’s programs.”

He said other council demands included giving a nurse a monthly salary of JD500, and “also pay extra for the night shifts they take to encourage them to work harder.”

Naser Al-Majali, the executive director of the Private Hospitals Association, said private hospitals were requesting to import medical staff from abroad because there is a shortage of experienced needed to work in healthcare institutions across Jordan.

“There is a shortage of nurses, especially experienced nurses, such as clinical, critical care, and emergency response nurses,” he told Jordan News.

“Therefore, private hospitals are requesting experienced nurses from abroad to maintain their high quality of service,” he noted.

Majali said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government hired nearly 2,500 experienced nurses in public hospitals, while Gulf Arab counties recruited another 2,000.

Rababah said some 1,400 fresh graduates from Jordanian universities join the industry each year, and some of them get connected through the council with employers in Gulf Arab states.

“Some countries hire Jordanian nurses, and I don’t see any added value for private hospitals to request nurses from abroad,” he said.

“It’s either for showing off that they have foreign nurses, or since it may be financially more feasible to hire foreign workers because of their lower wages.”

Taleb, a nurse working in a private hospital, who preferred not to be identified further, said many of his colleagues are skeptical about working for private hospitals.

Citing his own problems, he said he was not paid his salaries for two months this year.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, work conditions in private hospitals took a sharp turn to the worse,” he revealed.

“Some hospitals banked on patients from Arab countries, whose numbers dwindled since the pandemic, and even some Jordanians have opted for home care for fear of being infected with the virus,” he said. “This resulted in debt and financial problems to hospitals.”

He maintained that some nurses still find working for private hospitals better because of the broader opportunities of being contracted by some patients, who seek continued medical care at home following hospitalization.

Ali, a registered nurse in a public hospital, said public hospitals have enough nurses, who are overworked.

“Public hospitals face a major issue in management,” he said. “The nurse takes on management tasks that takes the time which should be dedicated to patients.”

Rababah said that his council was following up closely issues related to nurses’ working conditions, such as delayed salaries and long working hours, with the concerned authorities, primarily the Ministry of Labor.

But he warned, if employment conditions were not improved at private hospitals, “we will ask the nurses to stage strikes and we will have their wages paid through us”.

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