KHMU info The Year 2018 Survey on Health Workers’ Working Conditions , 81.8% respondents mention severe understaffed working environment

by KANG,YeonBae posted Aug 06, 2018


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KHMU Info No. 7(August 6, 2018)

The Year 2018 Survey on Health Workers’ Working Conditions

81.8% respondents mention severe understaffed working environment, 76.2% said, “Shortage of manpower obstacles a proper level of medical services”


Free labor is forced in daily overtime work...79.5% said, “I have not been properly paid for the extended working hours.”


The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union(KHMU) surveys it’s all union members every year. The 2018 survey was conducted for two months from March to April, with 50 items in 9 categories asking wage, work life, working conditions, job safety, maternity protection, etc. Of all, 29,620 (response rate-52%) answered the questions and the result was analysed and documented as a report.

*This survey has a 95% confidence level with plus or minus 5% error.

According to the survey result, understaffed conditions are extremely severe and such condition has strengthened labor intensity, exacerbated health conditions and increased the exposure of workers to accident risks. In addition, around 81.8% of respondents(23,894) pointed out that their departments lack manpower, while 18.2%(5,312) said the current staffing level was sufficient. Nurses in particular showed a higher level of awareness about manpower shortage(86.8%), compared to the average (81.8%). The large majority of respondents (83.4%) said that what matters the most was that shortage of manpower intensified labor followed by workers’ poorer health condition (76.1%), increased exposure to accident risks(69.8%) and conflicts and discordant relationship among workers (48.6%). Also, looking into the scores of each problem with the average score being the basis, they scored strengthened labor intensity at 73.9 points, poorer health conditions at 68.5, exposure to accident risks at 64.3 and conflicts among workers at 50.9. Such problems mentioned above are all the results of the vicious cycle led by manpower shortage, which is the fundamental issue.


76.5% responded, “Understaffed medical services would likely increase the chance of medical accidents, hampering patients’ safety.”

The survey revealed that manpower shortage threatened the safety of patients and quality of medical services. Regarding the problems led by manpower shortage, 76.2% of respondents said, “I failed to provide a proper level of medical services”; 74.4%, “I couldn’t kindly respond to the requests of patients and their caregivers”; 75.6%, “The quality of services was lowered”; and 76.5%, “The risks of medical accidents are high.” All combined, around mid-70% level at average confirmed manpower shortage resulted in problems.

At the same time, about the option “I failed to provide a proper level of medical services”, they gave 68.6 points; “I couldn’t kindly respond to the requests of patients and their caregivers”, 67.9; “The quality of services was lowered”, 68.1; and “The risks of medical accidents are high”, 69.0, leading the average to record at 70 points.


71.7% considered change of occupation over the recent three months with number one reason being severely poor working conditions (79.6%)

According to the survey, over a half of health and medical workers(50.5%) participating in the survey feels their workload is too heavy to conduct within the given working hours and 40.9% said they had difficulties in conducting their own jobs due to frequent morning meetings, education, conferences, events, assessments, academic papers and others, which should be handled besides work, as 69.6% agreed that due to other accessory jobs, they had some difficulties in conducting main jobs.

Under this circumstance, 71.7% of respondents said yes about if they had ever thought about changing occupation. In fact, those who have thought of specific plans to change occupation accounted for as high as 25.3%. It is also noteworthy that a higher rate of nurses than workers in other job categories(83.6%) said they considered change of occupation, with number one reason being poor working conditions(79.6%), followed by low wage(46.75), workplace culture and social relationship(83.9%), health(27.5%) and change to other occupations or jobs(27.3%). When looking at the job categories, those who mentioned poor working conditions as a reason for considering change of occupation were mostly nurses(32.7%) and nurses’ aids(32.3%), with workers in pharmacy service being 31.7% and others being 31%.

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