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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 December 4 - 10  > Group to protect local public hospitals formed
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2019 December 4 - 10 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Group to protect local public hospitals formed

December 5, 2019
A collaborative group consisting of six organizations related to public service workers, healthcare and social welfare services as well as unionists has been formed recently in order to work together to protect local public hospitals and community healthcare.

The Health and Welfare Ministry in September released a list of 424 public hospitals that are subject to streamlining. Of these medical institutions, 75% have less than 200 beds and 70% are located in communities with a population of less than 500,000. This means that small and mid-sized local public hospitals are being targeted for closures or mergers.

Representatives of the newly-formed group on December 4 held a press conference in the Health and Welfare Ministry office building and expressed their determination to work in cooperation with local residents to have the list withdrawn as well as to improve community healthcare so that "anyone, anywhere, anytime" can have access to medical care.

Kamakura Yukitaka, vice chair of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Iroren), pointed out, "For the purpose of curbing medical expenses, the ministry made this list without paying any attention to the situation in each community or the role each hospital has been playing. The ministry should do away with the list."

Katsuki Naoyuki, chair of the Japan National Hospital Workers' Union, said, "Government and municipal-owned hospitals have a policy ensuring care irrespective of profitability and have been providing unprofitable care and services, unlike many private institutions." He demanded that the list which does not take patients and local residents into consideration be retracted.

Takayanagi Kyoko, vice president of the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers Unions (Jichiroren), said, "The closure or forced mergers of local public hospitals will undermine community healthcare and the regional alliance network of hospitals."

Past related article:
> JCP Miyamoto urges Welfare Ministry to retract its proposal to slash number of public hospitals [October 31, 2019]
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