President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday announced a new set of guidelines for nursing reforms and promised to improve the working conditions of nurses amid accusations that they are being exploited by hospitals.
The administrative workload on nurses would be greatly reduced as a result of the reforms, while an extra NT$2 billion (US$68.1 million) is to be allocated to recruit more nurses to alleviate a nationwide shortage, Ma said during a ceremony held to honor 1,594 nurses who have served for more than 25 years.
“I will make good on my promises,” the president said.
The guidelines, recently drafted by the Department of Health and based on suggestions from academics and specialists, detail 60 strategies to counter problems in the healthcare sector.
Ma made particular mention of seven solutions, which include the reduction of administrative work, increases in pay and welfare benefits, and the recruitment of new nurses.
Although there are 230,000 people who hold nursing licenses in Taiwan, only about 40 percent of them are in the workforce, according to statistics compiled by health officials.
According to Department of Health statistics, the turnover rate for nurses reached 20 percent last year, which was 3 percent to 4 percent higher than in previous years. About 17,800 people left the profession last year.
Last month, a nurse who posted an article on CNN iReport said the shortage of staff was caused by harsh working conditions, which make the profession unattractive.
The shortage of nursing staff, in turn, has also become an excuse for hospitals to ask nurses not to take days off, the nurse wrote.
“We must bring back these people [with nursing licenses],” Ma said.
Nurses are “important assets” to society, he added.