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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 December 7 - 13  > Hospitals using two-shift work system increases to record high: union survey
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2022 December 7 - 13 [LABOR]

Hospitals using two-shift work system increases to record high: union survey

December 8, 2022

The percentage of hospitals using a two-shift work system which forces nurses to work on night duty for more than eight hours reached a record high of 44.9%. This was shown in the survey results which the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) released on December 7.

According to the survey, nurses under the three-shift system worked the late shift 7.8 times every month on average and 28.4% of the three-shift staff worked more than nine times, exceeding the upper limit of eight times per month set under the nurse-related law and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s guidelines. The two-shift nursing workers had night duty 4.14 times per month on average.

Regarding the question about the number of hours between working shifts, 40.6% of respondents answered that they are given an interval of less than eight hours, which does not allow enough time to fully recover from excessive fatigue.

At a press conference in the Labor Ministry office building, Iroren Chair Sasaki Etsuko noted that overwhelmed by excessively long working hours, more and more nurses have had to give up their jobs. She said that the government should take action to guarantee better working conditions to nurses in order to ensure the quality and safety of medical care.

Vice chair of the Iroren-affiliated Japan National Hospital Workers’ Union (JNHWU/Zen-Iro) Matsumoto Yoshiko brought up the issue of two-person nightshift per 50 patients at national hospitals. She pointed out that this arrangement imposes on nursing workers excessively heavy workloads, leading to a threat to patients’ lives. She said that the government should implement measures to increase the number of nurses at national hospitals as they have an important function to provide unprofitable but necessary healthcare services.

Iroren conducted the survey in June on more than 200,000 nursing staff at 345 medical facilities across the country.

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