Thu, Jun 08, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Foundation unhappy over vacation time for clinics

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers' Foundation yesterday said it opposes a plan implemented by medical associations in central Taiwan that would leave most clinics closed on Sundays.

According to a recent resolution by medical associations in Taichung City and Changhua, Nantou and Taichung counties, clinics will be required to have four holidays per month beginning this month.

As most clinics would choose Sunday as a holiday, foundation vice chairman Jason Lee (李鳳翱) said the resolution marked "a crisis for Taiwan's medical network."

Lee said the foundation understands that healthcare workers have the right to have time off, but that it is impossible for people to predict when they will be ill. Therefore, Lee appealed to medical workers in central Taiwan to rethink the decision.

The convener of the group's Committee of Medical Disputes, Hsu Wan-sheng (許萬盛), said a patient's rights to seek medical treatment, healthcare workers' right to rest and the free-market mechanism should all be respected.

Hsu, a physician, said that the decision by the four medical associations was tantamount to monopolization, and that as a doctor, he was completely against it.

Foundation deputy secretary-general Yu Kai-hsiung (游開雄) said that the doctor-patient relationship in the four regions may deteriorate.

"It will be ironic for the government if people have to `choose the time to fall sick,'" he said.

According to the foundation, the holiday plan was made in response to the Bureau of National Health Insurance's policy of "controlled total settlement," which has been in effect since July 2002.

In accordance with this policy, the payment that each medical facility receives for outpatient services is strictly controlled by supervising departments.

In response to the bureau's policies, the medical circle has proposed an scheme to limity outpatient services, and the holiday plan in central Taiwan can be considered a revolt by healthcare workers against the bureau, the foundation said.

The plan was not the first case of of its kind.

The Fair Trade Commission once demanded the Kaohsiung Medical Association cease its resolution to rest every other Sunday in November 2002 because the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法) prohibits businesses from taking joint action.

Lee said the BNHI was to blame. He said consumers that were outraged by this plan should report to the foundation.

"We are going to push the Department of Health and Fair Trade Commission to address this situation," he concluded.

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