The Department of Health has proposed raising the salary of nurses who are willing to take evening and night shifts as an incentive to stabilize shift schedules and address the Taiwan’s brain drain.
Nurses have already protested against their harsh working conditions several times this year, mainly focused on disordered shift schedules such as having to work at least two different shifts every week as well as frequent shortage of manpower, which has lead to an excessive workload and forced overtime.
“In addition to their basic salaries, the night duty allowances will be increased by NT$200 per shift, compared with the current night duty allowances, ” Bureau of Nursing and Health Services Development director Teng Su-wen (鄧素文) said.
If nurses are willing to take on more than 15 days of evening or night shifts per month, the night duty allowance for evening shifts will increase from between NT$300 and NT$500 to about NT$400 to NT$700, she said, adding that the increase in allowance for night shifts will increase from between NT$400 and NT$700 at present to about NT$500 to NT$900.
Assuming the basic salary for a nurse at a public medical center is NT$46,000 and using the highest allowance of NT$900 per shift, a nurse willing to take 20 days of night shifts in a month could earn up to NT$18,000 extra that month, Tseng said.
The department said about 90,000 nurses would benefit from the increase.
In addition, to resolve the extra workload caused by writing reports or forced overtime on nurses when facing hospital accreditation and evaluation visits — as often as 40 to 50 times over a four year period at present — Teng said the department has also proposed reducing the frequency of visits to less than 10 times in every four years of medical accreditation.
Teng said the department hopes that the proposals can become an effective solution to stabilize the work force for night shifts and to stop the nursing brain drain problem because — if the night shift work force can be stabilized — then the shift schedules of other nurses will also become more stable.
The proposals were sent to the Executive Yuan for approval last week and may be enacted as early as September, the department said.