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Independent hospital plan again pitched to reluctant medical staff

Date Posted: 2009-02-04

Okinawa Prefecture continues to promote its belief hospitals must be privatized in order to survive, and continues to encounter arguments and questions along the way.

The Prefecture Welfare Health Section has now turned to the north, explaining to doctors, nurses and other works in the Northern hospital area why prefecture-owned medical facilities must be converted to independent, private facilities. Officials explain it’s a financial necessity, because the government does not have the money to continue operating the hospitals. At the same time, they argue, medical services will not decrease with structural changes in hospital management.

The most recent meeting with 40 doctors, nurses and medical technologists brought explanations, and questions. Operations will remain as they are now, Prefecture briefers explained, and doctors, nurses and staff will remain constant. Hospital staff said they doubted that. “If it goes to an independent corporation, doctors will be difficult to get to this far away hospital,” said one doctor, “and nobody wants to work at the northern hospital.” Another doctor said privatization would led doctors to migrate “to work at downtown hospitals.”

Prefecture officials reassured workers that “we must have more detailed discussions, with clear information, and we’ll decide after that.”

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