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Medical workers criticize some hospitals' sweatshop practices

2012/04/30 23:43:54

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Several medical workers' groups Monday accused some hospitals of using possibly illegal practices to force nurses to work overtime, leading to the situation of sick nurses looking after patients.

Maggie Lin, a nurse whose article about problems facing medical personnel was posted on CNN iReport, the news network's website of user-generated contents, said the nurse shortage in Taiwan is caused by harsh working conditions, instead of the low ratio of people passing the license exam as the public believe.

The shortage also becomes an excuse for hospitals to ask nurses not to take days off, Lin said, but only pay a small amount of money for the extra hours they work.

Lin, who is now a member of the preparatory group for the Taiwan Radical Nurses Union, added that some hospitals even require nurses to be on call at all time, while those failing to show up when called upon are considered absent.

Shih Jui-i, secretary-general of the Medical Social Work Association, Republic of China, said being on call all the time has made nurses and medical social workers live a life of no quality.

Medical workers attending the press conference held in Taipei by the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation also gave examples of some hospitals' practices to save money, including asking them to do medical procedures they should not be doing, and requiring them to clock out on time but continue working without overtime pay.

While Lin said the NT$2 billion (US$68.52 million) government subsidy aimed at improving nurses' working conditions will not help solve problems, Joanne Liu, executive director of the foundation, said the government should listen to front-line workers in order to make the right policy, not just propose solution dealing with imminent issues.

(By Liu Te-chang, Tseng Te-jung and Kay Liu)