Foundation report reveals hospital ‘sweatshops’

HEALTHY CONDITIONS?:The report on overworking of medical staff did not include resident doctors, who are currently not included in the labor law

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - Page 3

Hospitals have become “sweatshops” that flout labor laws, said the Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation, which has identified 21 hospitals where staff were overworked, three of which are public hospitals administered by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

A report published by the foundation in late August was put in the media spotlight when Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) called the ministry’s supervision into question by citing the report at the legislature’s plenary session on Monday.

The foundation and other groups asked the government two years ago to list and make public the names of employers who have been found to have violated the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

Collecting the data for last year and this year provided by local governments, which is now publicly available online, the group said they found 21 hospitals in violation of the act, including three government hospitals in Chiayi, Fengyuan and Taitung and branch hospitals of the National Taiwan University Hospital, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Veterans General Hospital.

The report also said that, with the market for cosmetic surgery continuing to grow, an aesthetic medicine clinic in Taipei was also listed as having overworked its staff.

The head of the foundation’s research and development Chu Hsieh-kuang (朱顯光) said that the overworking of medical staff mentioned in the report does not include resident doctors, who are not included in the labor law.

“The workers we are talking about here are nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, radiologists, etc,” Chu said, adding that doctors have been calling for their inclusion in the act.

“In response, the government has worried the public by saying that the expansion of the scope of the law would result in dire consequences, such as a shortage of doctors,” he said.

However doctors’ calls have been heard, as “lawmakers have demanded the ministry provide quantified assessment and analysis on the said impact [of including physicians in the laobor law] within three months,” Chu said.