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Majority of Taiwan hospitals facing shortage of nurses: poll

2011/04/20 23:10:01

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) A large majority of hospitals in Taiwanare short of nursing staff, according to the results of a surveyreleased Wednesday.

The survey, which collected responses from some 100 hospitalmanagers in Taiwan over the past week, showed that close to 90percent of hospitals are finding it difficult to recruit nurses.

Nursing vacancy rates have reached an average of 10 percent, saidLu Yueh-jung, secretary general of the National Union of Nurses'Associations.

Lu said that the shortage of nurses has been especially seriousthis year and has led to the closing of wards at some hospitals.

Citing the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 nurses lastyear, Lu said that low pay, heavy workload and high pressure are themain reasons for the high turnover rate among nurses. Only 17 percentof the respondents said they were willing to stay in their jobs forthe next three years, Lu said.

Nurses in Taiwan are assigned eight to 11 patients at a time,whereas a Japanese nurse is responsible for seven patients, and anurse in Europe or the U.S. is responsible for four to five patients,Lu said.

In some Taiwan hospitals, nurses on night shifts can be assignedup to 20-30 patients, five times the number of patients assigned totheir European or U.S. counterparts, she said.

Meanwhile, the results of a hospital evaluation releasedWednesday by the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation (THRF) confirmedthat Taiwan nurses are under heavy stress.

The THRF said that despite better profits at hospitals and anannual 3 percent increase in the national health care budget,hospitals have continued to impose a heavy workload and long overtimehours on their nurses.

The stressful working environment has apparently forced manynurses to consider a career change.

According to the Taipei Nurses Association, some nurses have quittheir jobs to become flight attendants, while others have soughtopportunities in the service industry.

Department of Health (DOH) statistics show that less than 60percent of certified nurses are currently working in theirprofessions.

In an effort to resolve the shortage of nurses and improve theworking conditions, the DOH said that in its assessments it willgive a failing grade to hospitals that hire fewer nurses than areneeded.

According to revisions made to hospital accreditation standardsin January this year, district hospitals are required to have atleast one professional nurse for every four wards, regional hospitalsmust have at least one for every 2.5 wards, and academic hospitalsshould have one for every two wards.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Christie Chen)