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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 30 - November 5  > JCP Miyamoto urges Welfare Ministry to retract its proposal to slash number of public hospitals
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2019 October 30 - November 5 [POLITICS]

JCP Miyamoto urges Welfare Ministry to retract its proposal to slash number of public hospitals

October 31, 2019

Japanese Communist Party Lower House member Miyamoto Toru on October 30 at a House Welfare Committee meeting urged the Welfare Ministry to retract its recently-published list of 424 public hospitals nationwide which it says need to be merged or closed.

The list, which the ministry made public last month, is attracting increasing public criticism and concern.

Miyamoto referred to a meeting he held the other day with the director of Okutama Hospital in Tokyo’s mountainous town of Okutama, which is one of the 424 facilities cited. He explained about the important role the hospital plays in the community. Okutama Hospital provides healthcare services 24/7 to meet local needs, such as home-visit nursing staff for people having difficulties in going to the hospital and provision of medical treatment for injured hikers. When Typhoon Hagibis hit the town, the staff of the hospital delivered medication to patients living in areas isolated by heavy rain. In the meeting with Miyamoto, the hospital director said that if the hospital is shut down, it will take more than one hour for ambulances to reach the nearest hospital.

Miyamoto also pointed out that the list includes hospitals having expertise in treating intractable diseases. He said that National Hospital Organization Murayama Medical Center is on the list despite the fact that the facility is one of the leading hospitals in Japan in terms of the numbers of spine and spinal cord operations performed and that it accepts patients from all across the country.

Welfare Minister Kato Katsunobu said that the list was compiled based on data of a particular period of time and in a uniform manner. He also admitted that the list includes facilities vital to local communities.

Miyamoto stressed that if the listed hospitals are actually merged or closed down, the general public will be unable to receive the necessary medical services in time. He demanded the official rejection of the list.
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