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On December 28, Taiwan Medical Alliance for Labor Justice and Patient Safety (TMAL) and several medical reformation groups held a press conference to call on the government to consider the uneven distribution of medical resources and to implement a family doctor and referral system.

CNA reports, the press conference was summoned by legislator Tian Qiu-jin, Taiwan Medical Alliance for Labor Justice and Patient Safety (TMAL), Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation (THRF), Taiwan Community Hospital Association (TCHA) and several medical reformation groups on December 28.

Zhang Ke-shi, Secretary-General of TCHA points out that currently the hospitals are overcrowded while almost half of the local clinics have shut down. He says that medical centers were meant for patients in need of critical care, but now the system is almost paralyzed because people are used to coming in for minor illnesses. This not only increases the medical staff’s workload, but the doctors are also forced to cut back their teaching and research time. The shutting down of local clinics also deprives patients’ health care rights and medical treatment in non-metropolitan areas.

Awakening News reports, Zhu Xian-guang, deputy CEO of Taiwan Healthcare Reform Foundation (THRF), says that the current health insurance system offers more subsidy to medical centers, which makes high level hospitals put more emphasis on clinic care and slight illnesses.

According to Zhu, if the government wants to solve this problem, it should start by implementing the spirit of law number 42 under the National Health Insurance Act, to allow each illness receive the same amount of subsidy, no matter what level the hospital holds.

People being used to visiting medical centers rather than local hospitals is also another major reason medical resources are wasted. Luo Yong-da, president of Taichung Ching Chyuan Hospital, points out that currently each patient is only charged NT$360 (approximately US$11) extra if they go to medical centers for health care, but this is because the National Health Insurance Act fails to fully enact. According to the law, each patient should be charged NT$1526 (approximately US$ 46.61) extra.

Liberty Times reports, the director of TMAL, Ling Bing-hong, says that the medical centers in Germany have no outpatient clinics but instead have in-patient medical services. The medical centers in Taiwan are doing what the local hospitals should do.

RTI reports, the Ministry of Health and Welfare encourages the promotion of a family doctor system and calls on people to go to nearby clinics.

In response, medical reformation groups criticize that the government has not promoted the family doctor system thoroughly. They also require all of the hospitals in Taiwan to implement a referral system and help develop local hospitals in non-metropolitan regions.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang