The government is planning to hire an estimated 12,500 nurses for new nursing positions this year, a work in progress that aims to cut the surplus of nursing graduates in the Philippines, Senator Franklin Drilon said Sunday.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, bared that Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has given the go signal to grant Health Secretary Enrique Ona an authorization to hire an additional 10,000-12,500 nursing professionals in the government workforce.

“We agreed that between now and the end of the year, the Department of Health should be given an authorization to hire 10,000-12,500 nurses,” Drilon said in a radio interview,

This, despite the Health department’s admission during the agency’s budget hearing that there are currently 287,000 nursing graduates who are either unemployed or underemployed. Over the weekend, it was announced that another 37,513 examinees passed the Nurse Licensure Examination administered in July.

During the Finance committee’s hearing, it was discovered that the Budget department disallowed the hiring of an additional 4,000 in the DoH workforce due to a ban on hiring of administrative positions, apparently due to the discrepancy with the way the Department of Budget and Management interpreted administrative posts.

Drilon said that there is glaring deficiency of nursing staff in state hospitals, compounded by the fact that the allowed staffing pattern is not actually filled up particulary in regional government hospitals.

“This is good news… I am glad that our health system will be given a temporary relief due to the hiring of additional nurses,” Drilon added.

Drilon said they will study the proposed budget for next year to determine how many new nursing positions will be made available.