Saturday, September 4, 2021

Recruitment of Nurses in Korea

The ongoing response to coronavirus 19 is exhausting the medical staff at hospitals and clinics. It's easy to understand the burdens as everyone focuses on responding to the Coronavirus. The outbreak has already exceeded a year and six months. The complaints are not just recent, if there is no response, it is only neglect. So begins a medical doctor's column in the 'Symptoms of Sickness' in the Catholic Peace Weekly.

Korea in the number of hospital beds is one of the highest among the developed countries but medical and especially nursing personnel are at the bottom. A large number of nursing staff can avoid misdiagnoses and a quick return to society. In Korea, the environment the nurses have to work in is difficult, many new nurses turn their backs on being at bedsides within a few years.

Most countries have standards for nursing staff— the number of patents and nurse ratio. In European countries even if the regulations are not legally binding, wards are closed if there is a shortage of nursing staff. However, in Korea, no sanctions even if 30 patients are taken care of by a nurse and support staff.

The government has been encouraging the recruitment of manpower through the health insurance system. Incentives are given when the ratio of nurses to patients is high, however, no measures to penalize those with sub-standard ratios. As a result, large hospitals can maintain a high nursing level, hire more manpower to increase profits, but local small and medium hospitals stay outside the rating system because of difficulties in supplying more help.

In this structure, the quality of medical care between large hospitals and small and medium-sized hospitals is widening, and the public naturally prefers large hospitals.  

Even now, a government policy to fill the nursing workforce is needed. First of all, sub-standard situations must be changed. Although Korea is a country with many hospital beds, there are not enough that adhere to proper manpower standards. If a small and medium-sized hospital is in a crisis of closure due to insufficient manpower, if necessary for the local community, the state will have to support it to meet the manpower standard or make a public purchase. If we just rely on good intentions and use the sick as an excuse, we cannot break the vicious cycle discussed above.

Health care workers have announced a general strike in the face of the coronavirus. One of the main reasons for the strike is to increase manpower. With the recent 4th epidemic, it is difficult to respond to treatment with around 2,000 confirmed cases every day. The core of the urgent discussion on the change of quarantine policy is the ability to respond to treatment, and the core is the expansion of medical personnel.

Leaving hospitals and beds that do not meet manpower standards is neglecting the health and life of the people. Let's set clear standards for manpower compared to hospital beds to those of advanced countries, and boldly close out beds outside of the standard. The rotten flesh must be cut out so that new flesh can grow.

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