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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 November 21 - 27  > JCP Koike attends public debate on excessively long working hours of doctors
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2018 November 21 - 27 [LABOR]

JCP Koike attends public debate on excessively long working hours of doctors

November 25, 2018
Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on November 23 debated the issue of overworked doctors with representatives from other political parties at a meeting organized by the Japan Surgical Association. He stressed the need to reduce doctors’ work hours and increase the number of medical professionals.

The debate was held in Tokyo on the sidelines of the association’s general meeting. Koike and several Dietmembers, who are MDs, presented their views on what should be done to deal with the harsh working conditions of doctors before the audience of 130 doctors.

Koike referred to the Medical Practitioners’ Act which obliges doctors to accept patients’ requests for treatment and said that this obligation is too often understood as resting solely upon individual doctors, driving them into limitless self-sacrifice as a result. Koike stressed that the remedy is to improve regional medical systems so that the obligation will be fulfilled collectively by doctors in those areas as a whole.

Proposing concrete measures, Koike said that the government should put an upper limit on the number of hours that a doctor can work in a single shift and introduce a system to give doctors a mandatory interval between shifts. He added that sufficient sleep is vital for doctors to maintain their own health and the quality of job performance. Koike also noted that there should be binding laws to this effect.

In response to a comment from the floor that the imposition of a maximum length of a work day would make labor shortages even worse, Koike stressed that the realization of better working conditions for doctors will not come without a change in the Abe government’s policy to cut expenditures on medical services. He stated that the government should take measures to help hospitals hire more doctors.

Past related articles:
> 70% of nurses suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome: union survey [September 21, 2017]
> Symposium held to discuss issue of overworked hospital doctors [September 10, 2017]
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