Japan’s Hospitals Face Financial Hardships Under COVID-19Health Work Economy Society
Hospitals that accept COVID-19 patients have had to set up zoning to separate the movement of infected patients to prevent in-hospital infection and all the staff, including the administration members, continue working hard on a daily basis to keep the spread under control. But despite facing hardships, hospital revenues are falling and staff bonuses are being reduced.
Since November 2020, when the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic started in earnest, Japanese hospitals are finding it harder to get by financially. This was revealed in a survey of 4,410 hospitals belonging to three organizations: the Japan Hospital Association, All Japan Hospital Association, and Japanese Association of Medical Care Corporations. There were valid responses from 1,475 hospitals.
The survey was conducted over a 3-month period between October and December 2020. Compared to the previous year, the number of inpatients and outpatients had decreased and although emergency surgeries in November and December remained at the same level as 2019, overall the number of surgeries fell.
Due to this, medical practice profit has fallen, and the third wave of the pandemic has seen an increase in the rate of hospitals in deficit. This is particularly severe among hospitals that have been accepting COVID-19 patients.
Of the 1,475 hospitals that responded to the survey, 38.1% paid reduced winter bonuses and 0.3% had no bonus payments at all. Hospitals engaged in COVID-19-related work, including accepting COVID-19 patients or returnees and people who have been potentially exposed, saw bonus payments reduced by more than 40%.
In the nine-month period between April and December 2020, the profit margin of 911 hospitals nationwide had a 5.6% deficit and had worsened by 4.6 points from the same period the previous year. However, if hospitals can receive financial aid from the government and local authorities, their financial state is expected to show some improvement. The three medical associations said that hospitals across Japan are fighting to protect regional medical care and that ongoing support for these institutions is essential to the provision of medical care in each region.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)