Taipei, May 7 (CNA) National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) said Monday that it has increased the salaries and benefits it offers nurses to help retain them and does not have a nursing shortage.
"The increased salaries and benefits have cut the departure rate of nurses," said Huang Lian-hua, director of the hospital's Department of Nursing.
Amid concerns that nurses are leaving hospitals around Taiwan en masse because of "sweatshop" working conditions, she noted that the hospital had recruited 318 nurses last month and said they would report to work over the next two months.
The recruiting effort took into consideration the departure and retirement rates of nurses, the three-month probation period for new recruits, and demands for more nurses in new wards in the future, relieving any potential nursing shortage, according to Huang.
Huang said that as a public hospital, the NTUH presently employs 70 percent of nurses as government employees, and the remaining 30 percent are contract nurses.
On average, newly recruited nurses can become government employees after working between 2.5 years and five years, she said, adding that "those who are leaving are mostly nurses who have worked for less than one year."
"The departure rate of nurses at the hospital is low among public hospitals," Huang said, seeing the lower attrition rate as the result of salary and benefit improvements, as well as stepped-up counseling for new recruits.
She noted that the starting salary of a registered nurse at the hospital is NT$46,000. For individuals incorporated into the government employee system who can have their salaries increase with seniority, their monthly pay can reach as high as NT$80,000.
She noted that salaries for nurses were hiked by 3 percent last July in conjunction with salary hikes for civil servants and that this March, their base salaries were increased by another NT$3,100.
Contract nurses also enjoy year-end and major holiday bonuses, such as for the Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn festivals, and are also eligible for performance bonuses.
They also get subsidies for travel during holidays, and for those nurses who cannot take time off due to the demands of their job, they can choose to take time off later or be paid overtime.
Nurses over 50 do not have to work graveyard shifts, and there are also nurseries to take care of children of the employees, she said.
(By Chen Chin-fang and Lilian Wu)