National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), the leading medical center in Taiwan, announced Thursday it will reduce its outpatient services on Saturdays, starting in April.
It is believed the measure represents an attempt to offset the impact of newly implemented work rules on vacation days and the introduction of a standard 40-hour work week, which came into effect on Dec. 23, 2016.
The hospital said it would gradually shift outpatient appointments scheduled for Saturdays to weekdays, before implementing the planned service reduction in April.
Some medical departments will continue to provide service on Saturday at its Children's Hospital, NTUH said, though it has not yet decided which ones.
According to an assessment by the medical sector, the service reduction will affect 2,000 to 3,000 visits by patients seeking Saturday outpatient services at NTUH.
NTUH is not the first medical center to have responded to the new work rules by cutting services. One day earlier, Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital said it would reduce outpatient services on evenings, weekends and holidays by at least 25 percent after the end of the Lunar New Year holiday in February.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital also canceled cesarean section appointments on weekends and holidays, except in the case of emergencies.
Asked about NTUH's new measures, Shin-Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital vice superintendent Hung Tzu-jen (???) said he approved of the way NTUH was seeking to curb the excessive hours of medical personnel.
As to whether Shin-Kong plans to follow suit, Hung said the hospital will not make a decision for another six months. For the moment, it plans to observe how other hospitals comply with the new work rules.
Other medical centers, including Taipei Medical University Hospital, MacKay Memorial Hospital, Cathay General Hospital and Tri-Service General Hospital, all said there would be no changes in services for the time being.
Under the new work rules, total maximum work hours have been reduced from 84 hours every two weeks to 40 hours a week and workers are now entitled to one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day a week, measures that could increase operating costs.
Employers also face much higher overtime costs than normal if employees work on their weekly "flexible" day off. In addition, employees are not allowed to work on the mandatory day off because the rules mandate that workers can only work a maximum of six days in a row.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel