Sun, Jul 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

DOH plans fund to address doctor shortage problem

STEMMING THE FLOW:A major tranche of funding is aimed at addressing a skills shortfall that is being seen across the world, the department said

Staff writer, with CNA

A total of NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) will be allocated to help solve the shortage of doctors in five hospital departments, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said yesterday at a summit held to address the issue.

“The funds will be spread over three years,” Chiu said, pledging to take a proactive role in retaining doctors in key hospital departments: general medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and emergency medicine.

The budget will come partially from tobacco tax revenues and will be used to increase payments for doctors registered under the national health insurance system, he said in an opening speech.

However, the minister did not specify when the subsidy plan is to begin, only saying that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) has agreed to the scheme.

Citing the shortfall of hospital staff in Japan, the US and in some European countries, he added that the shortage of doctors “is a problem faced by the world at large” and “it’s time for Taiwan to take action.”

Control Yuan member Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄), who is active in promoting health care reform, said that the risk of malpractice lawsuits and the lack of payment incentives are the main reasons there is a scarcity of practicing doctors in certain hospital departments.

According to statistics from health authorities, 85 percent of all medical disputes were raised against doctors specializing in the five hospital departments experiencing shortages.

A set of 12 strategies to deal with the issue were up for discussion at the summit. The proposals included subsidies for resident physicians, reforming the national health insurance payment system and amending penalties for medical malpractice.

Health reform pains

‧ NT$30 billion (US$1 billion) is to be assigned to tackle a shortage of doctors.

‧ There are key shortages in general medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and emergency medicine.

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