Activities to Establish the Special Act on Healthcare Personnel Support
1) Background for the Special Act on Healthcare Personnel Support
○ A sufficient number of healthcare personnel often appears on the agenda in negotiations between employers and employees. But, hospital employers don’t hire more workers because of cost. Hence, the shortage personnel problems have not improved.
○ KHMU took a field trip to the UCLA hospital (California, USA) and studied the US personnel act to discover possible institutional solutions and suitable policies at the national level.
○ KHMU launched activities for the ‘Hospital without family care’ in 2009. Currently, some severely ill patients need to hire caregivers or family members should be present at the hospital to take care of them. However, if the hospital and its nursing services can completely meet the needs of patients; then, such patients don’t have to worry about paying for caregivers or family members spending too much time caring for them.
○ Public awareness of safety has been greatly raised since the ferry Sewol sunk in 2015. Also, the MERS outbreak sounded the alarm about Korea’s healthcare system. While responding to the communicable respiratory disease, the medical system in Korea showed its vulnerability to infectious diseases, putting patients’ safety in danger. Consequently, it is an overriding priority to secure a sufficient number of healthcare professionals for a prompt and organized response to fatal diseases. With the enactment of the Patients’ Safety Law, the public shared the common idea that the safety of patients is only promised when a sufficient number of qualified professionals can promptly supply decent healthcare services whenever needed.
○ Society is rapidly aging. The average life expectancy is heading towards 100, and the nature of disease is changing. All the trends noted increase the demand for healthcare services. Given the soaring interest in health and well being, securing high quality medical service is a crucial issue gaining more attention over time. Therefore, the shortages of personnel in medical institutions are the challenge to meet without fail to satisfy the public’s demands for quality.
2) The Gist of the Special Act on Healthcare Personnel Support
① The Act stipulates essential measures to improve the supply of healthcare workers and working conditions, including their economic and social positions and benefits. By doing so, it aims to increase the quality of healthcare services and patients’ health conditions. (Article 1)
② The Act ensures the accountability of the central and local governments with regards to healthcare personnel support. (Article 3)
③ In addition, under the Act, it is mandatory that the Minister of Health and Welfare should set up a comprehensive five-year plan to support healthcare personnel, enact, and implement annual action plans. (Article 5, Article 6)
④ Comprehensive research on current situations about healthcare personnel should be conducted to document working hours, turnover rate, welfare and number of minority employees such as women, foreigners and contract workers. (Article 7)
⑤ A ‘Healthcare Personnel Policy Deliberative Committee’ should be established and run in order to set up and implement a comprehensive plan: to raise and supply healthcare personnel; to lay out a regulation on the number of staff in hospitals and standard business guidelines; to improve working conditions; to increase benefits; to come up with measures for work-family life balance. And the Committee should consist of consumers and labor/civic groups, rather than putting the government and suppliers at the center of the committee. (Article 8)
⑥ In the meantime, healthcare organizations including medical institutions, local and district public clinics, long-term care facilities that are recognized by the Minister of Health and Welfare should observe the stipulations of the Act regarding healthcare personnel employment. (Article 9)
⑦ And the government and municipalities should provide financial support to healthcare institutions when the institutions establish and operate education and training facilities, community centers, kids’ daycare facilities, and other public welfare facilities. (Article 10)
⑧ Furthermore, the government should provide an employment fund to increase employees in healthcare organizations; provide support for job-seeking and employment; invest in facilities to raise the level of employment in the healthcare sector; and provide support to healthcare organizations if healthcare organizations create a policy to shorten working hours. (Article 11, Article 12)
⑨ The Minister of Health and Welfare should promote best practices of excellent healthcare organizations and a legal basis to support excellent healthcare professionals. (Article 13, Article 14)
⑩ The government should make and implement necessary policies for financial support, a credit guarantee and an improved medical fee system, in order to ensure patients’ safety and a higher quality of medical services—that can only be achieved with a stable supply of and support for healthcare workers. (Article 15)
⑪ Lastly, in order to effectively implement those measures for a stable supply of and support for healthcare personnel, the Minister of Health and Welfare should establish and operate a ‘Healthcare Human Resource Agency, which is dedicated to healthcare personnel supply and support. (Article 16)
3) KHMU’s Effort to Establish the Special Act on Healthcare Personnel Support
○ With the Ministry of Health and Welfare – Two discussion sessions about policy: April 14 and July 12
○ Industry-based Negotiation with employer representatives
- A total of 43 hospitals agreed to make a joint effort to establish the Special Act.
○ Signature-collecting Campaign: Petition for Legislation of the Special Act
- Target Number of Signature: 100,000
- Period: August 16 (Tue) – September 30 (Fri)
- Target Participant: Union Members, Patients/Patients’ Family/Caregivers + Online Campaign
How to Collect: five or more signatures per one union member
How to Use: Hand over collected signatures to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Assembly
○ Conference with lawmakers to Facilitate Legislation of the Special Act
- Period: Between September 1 (Thur) – 30 (Fri)
- Local Lawmakers: union members designated by districts meet lawmakers in those districts and deliver the Union’s opinion letter
- Member of the National Assembly and Central Political Parties: KHMU’s headquarters produces meeting materials and meets with lawmakers and politicians
○ Campaign to Raise Public Awareness of the Current Situations of Healthcare Personnel and the Need for the Special Act: from August to October
<Note> Talking Point for Public Awareness Campaign
▶ Turnover rate of healthcare personnel is very high.
▶ 500,000 additional jobs can and should be created in the healthcare industry.
▶ Why unemployed, experienced nurses fail to be hired again.
▶ Do you ever know what happens when one nurse takes care of multiple patients at once?
▶ Disclose the real face of the public hospitals’ personnel number system.
▶ What lessons we learned from the suicide of the nurse at Chonnam National University Hospital
▶ What problems occur due to a contract worker system run by hospitals?
▶ Reveal the PA nurse system
▶ Law, Is it pie in the sky that can never be reached?
○ Discussion Conference at the National Assembly for Improving Healthcare Personnel Issues and Working Conditions
- Title: Nurses leave the hospital, patients’ safety collapses – how to improve working conditions and resolve personnel shortage issues
- Date: 10:00 AM, September 6 (Tue), 2016
- Venue: Conference Room at the National Assembly
- Host: KHMU, Lawmaker Jung Chun-suk (The Minjoo Party of Korea), Lawmaker Yoon So-ha (Justice Party), Korean Nurses Association
○ Joint-Action by 170 KHMU Chapters across the Nation Every Wednesday
Sep 7 (Wed)
Launch Patients’ Family and Caregiver Signature Campaign
Signature Reception Desk Installation
Sep 12 (Mon)
Chuseok (Thanks-giving day) Campaign
Sep 21 (Wed)
First round of Early Morning Campaign
Campaign with Union Members during the Office-going hours
Sep 27 (Tue)
Second round of Early Morning Campaign
Circulate the Letter to Patients’ Family
Campaign ahead of General Strike and All-out Struggle
○ All-out Strike by Industries to Realize the Special Act on Healthcare Personnel Support on September 28 (Wed) in connection with collective bargaining by hospitals