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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 September 8 - 14  > National hospital nurses exhausted fighting against COVID-19: Union questionnaire results
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2021 September 8 - 14 [LABOR]

National hospital nurses exhausted fighting against COVID-19: Union questionnaire results

September 14, 2021
“Despite chronic labor shortages, as a national hospital, my hospital plays an indispensable role in dealing with COVID-19 patients. This has led to the physical and mental exhaustion of workers. Some experienced mental health problems and others left the hospital.” This is an example of comments which the Japan National Hospital Workers’ Union (JNHWU/Zen-iro) collected through a questionnaire survey.

Zen-iro, as part of its efforts to push the government to improve community healthcare systems and national hospital functions, conducted the questionnaire survey to find out about national hospital workers’ actual situation amid the pandemic.

In the questionnaire, respondents gave statements about exhausted frontline workers: “Many workers became emotionally worn out from the constant fear of being infected. Six workers resigned within the last year,” and “Since some general ward nurses were transferred to COVID-19 wards, the remaining nurses have difficulty responding to call lights promptly.”

Asked if they had any complaints regarding the national government response, they wrote comments such as these: “We, medical workers have been devoting ourselves to saving COVID patients. However, the government has made no attempt to recompense us for our labors, showing a flagrant disregard for us,” and “In Japan, which is supposedly a developed country, among people infected with COVID-19, some died after being forced to recuperate at home due to hospital bed shortages. The national government is neglecting its duty of protecting people’s lives.”

Based on the results of the questionnaire, Zen-iro on September 9 issued a statement. The union in its statement stressed the need to hold an extraordinary session of the Diet without delay to discuss the need of urgent measures to be implemented in order to protect people’s lives during the pandemic. Furthermore, the union demands that in order to strengthen Japan’s healthcare system, whose vulnerability has been spotlighted by the pandemic, the government make efforts to improve the preparedness for possible health emergencies.
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