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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 February 26 - March 3  > Welfare Ministry’s cutback list includes designated infectious disease medical institutions
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2020 February 26 - March 3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Welfare Ministry’s cutback list includes designated infectious disease medical institutions

February 27, 2020
Among 424 public hospitals on the Welfare Ministry’s list for streamlining, there are 53 designated medical institutions for specified infectious diseases. This was revealed by Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Shimizu Tadashi in his Diet questioning.

At a subcommittee meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on February 25, JCP Shimizu grilled the government about the Welfare Ministry’s plan under which 424 hospitals will be consolidated or closed under the name of reducing government expenditures for the national healthcare system.

Shimizu pointed out that 53 designated infectious disease medical institutions are included in the Welfare Ministry’s list of 424 hospitals. He referred to an Internal Affairs Ministry report which was published in 2017. In the report, the ministry pointed out that designated medical institutions across Japan are not well prepared for dealing with infectious disease patients on various grounds, such as difficulty in securing enough beds for such patients.

The JCP lawmaker said that the government should examine the report as the role of public hospitals has become more and more important since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Shimizu pointed out that the targeted hospitals perform various functions which include accepting patients whose symptoms are difficult to treat at private medical facilities, providing medical services to residents in rural areas, and dealing with medical emergencies. He said, “Pushing ahead with the hospital downsizing plan only in order to cut down on government medical spending and the number of hospital beds will lead to the collapse of local healthcare systems across the country.”

In response, Internal Affairs Minister Takaichi Sanae admitted that public hospitals play a very important role in providing unprofitable but necessary medical services and in efforts to tackle infectious diseases. The minister showed her intent to take into account demands of local organizations and municipalities so that public hospitals will carry out their functions in accordance with their communities’ needs.

Past related articles:
> Group to protect local public hospitals formed [December 5, 2019]
> JCP Miyamoto urges Welfare Ministry to retract its proposal to slash number of public hospitals [October 31, 2019]
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