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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 8 - 14  > COVID-19 crisis highlights mistake of gov’t policy to cut medical spending: Medical workers’ union
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2020 April 8 - 14 [POLITICS]

COVID-19 crisis highlights mistake of gov’t policy to cut medical spending: Medical workers’ union

April 8, 2020
The government is calling on hospitals across the country to secure the necessary number of staff and equipment to effectively deal with the surge in COVID-19 patients. They, however, have difficulties in responding to the government call as their organizational strength has diminished under the government’s ongoing policy of cutting medical spending.

This was revealed in a survey by the Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions (Iroren). Iroren urged the government to take drastic measures to help medical facilities deal with the present crisis situation.

At a press conference held on April 7 in the Health Ministry building, Iroren Chair Morita Shinobu praised the strenuous efforts made by doctors and nurses working on the front lines. At the same time, she said that many hospitals cannot accept COVID-19 patients to their full capacity due to the shortage of medical workers. Morita stressed that the coronavirus crisis has made it clear that hospitals’ capability to respond to a health emergency was damaged by the government policy of slashing government medical expenditures. She urged the government to provide more financial support to hospitals and abandon its plan to decrease the number of public hospitals.

Iroren Vice Chair Miura Nobuko explained the results of its survey of seven member unions across the nation concerning their efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis.

According to Miura, one Iroren union stated that doctors and nurses are handling COVID-19 patients amid fears that in-hospital infections among staff would paralyze the entire facility. It also noted that well-trained staff and equipment for infectious disease wards are in short supply because these wards have been labeled as unprofitable by the national government and not covered by state subsidies.

Another Iroren union stated that the growing number of patients in infectious disease wards requires support from other sections and puts a heavy strain on the hospital. There also was an Iroren union that complained that its hospitals dealing with infectious disease patients suffer a decrease in income as they have to limit the number of outpatients to be accepted.

Miura said, “Prime Minister Abe declared a state of emergency reportedly with the aim of preventing a health care collapse. Then, it is essential to offer financial support to medical institutions.”
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