Taipei, April 22 (CNA) The government plans to increase the subsidies available to hospitals hiring resident nurses, in response to a shortage of medical personnel that has led to staff being overworked, a health official said Sunday.
A total of NT$2 billion (US$67.8 million) will be earmarked to improve the working conditions among medical personnel this year. Of this figure, NT$750 million will be used to subsidize hospitals, allowing them to hire more resident nursing staff, said Lee Chun-fu, an official of the Department of Health's Bureau of National Health Insurance.
Each hospital will get up to NT$30,000 for each additional resident nurse it employs.
The government has already been spending NT$1 billion every year to encourage hospitals to hire more nurses.
Lee expressed hope that the new plan will encourage local hospitals to hire an additional 2,000 resident nursing staff this year.
The decision was made in response to the intense workload for medical workers, which has come under the spotlight lately when a local nurse uploaded an article to CNN's iReport website complaining about the harsh conditions nursing staff suffer in Taiwan.
In order to get the subsidy, hospitals will have to file reports to the bureau every month to ensure that the ratio of nursing staff to patients meets a required standard.
Under the existing incentive plan, the bureau did not require hospitals to file regular reports on nursing staff levels.
However, Lee added that staff employment is the responsibility of the hospitals and that the bureau will not be involved in hiring.
The plan only aims to improve staff working conditions based on several aspects, including hospital evaluation, number of new hires by each hospital and nursing quality indicators.
The bureau said the detailed subsidy plan would be announced the following day.
(By Chen Ching-fang and Nell Shen)