President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to seek solutions to the shortage of medical workers and increase the nurse-to-patient staffing ratio to 1:7 to help improve the quality of medical services.
In a meeting with nursing associations’ representatives, Ma said the government invested NT$2 billion (US$60 million) last year in raising the salaries of medical workers. The number of nurses and medical workers increased by 4,592 last year to reach a total of 140,000. However, 9,200 nurses are still needed to meet the ratio.
“Taiwan has a world-renowned health insurance program, but it should not be built on the self-sacrifice of our medical personnel. How do we maintain the medical system if doctors are scared away by lawsuits, while nurses are worn out by heavy workloads? It is the government’s responsibility to solve this problem,” Ma said.
Statistics show that 230,000 people hold nursing licenses in Taiwan, but only about 40 percent of them are in the workforce.
Ma said a shortage of nurses and medical personnel at hospitals was a problem many countries faced and the Department of Health has proposed several strategies to address the issue.
It has established a task force to improve working conditions, including work hours, compensation for work-related injuries and insurance protection, and would include working conditions in future hospital reviews, Ma said.
Next year it will launch a program to train 200 nurses and medical workers to be employed in remote areas to resolve shortages in those areas, he said.