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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 November 8 - 14  > Union efforts bring about better working conditions for nurses working night shift: Iroren
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2017 November 8 - 14 [LABOR]

Union efforts bring about better working conditions for nurses working night shift: Iroren

November 14, 2017
The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) on November 13 released results of the 2017 survey of nurses working night shifts. It said that nurses’ working conditions during night duty showed some improvements due to unions’ efforts.

According to Iroren, of medical facilities surveyed, 37% used the two-shift work system, slightly down from a record high of 38% in 2016. The two-shift system inevitably imposes on nurses longer working hours than the three-shift system, which 63% of the total facilities in the survey employed.

Among facilities that operate on the two-shift system, 43% adopted a 16-hour or longer night shift. The percentage decreased from 55% in the previous year.

The average numbers of night shifts worked per month were 7.7 times for nurses working the three-shift system and 4.0 times for nurses working under the two-shift system. Based on the government-set guidelines, Iroren argues that three-shift nurses and two-shift nurses should not take on overnight duty more than nine times and 4.5 times a month respectively. However, the survey found that 24% of three-shift nurses and 32% of two-shift nurses worked more night shifts than that proposed by Iroren. In particular, the percentages were higher for intensive care unit staff, 40% and 55%.

Iroren Chair Morita Shinobu at a press conference on the same day said, “The percentage of facilities employing the two-shift system went down from the last year, but only moderately.” She expressed her determination to work even harder to reduce the number of night shifts worked and increase the number of medical staff.
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