Govt Plans more Pandemic-Related Spending

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A public health nurse and others work at the office of the Arakawa ward government in Tokyo in May.

The government plans to register 3,000 potential nurses who are qualified but not working for reasons such as pregnancy or childcare leave with its human resource bank by the end of March next year amid the spread of the coronavirus.

There are plans to send them to areas facing a potential shortage of health care workers due to more people becoming infected with the virus.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A public health nurse and others work at the Gifu city public health center in Gifu in April.

This summer, the government established the human resource bank in response to a shortage of workers at public health centers due to the spread of infections in spring. Currently, about 1,200 people that include public health center officials, nurses and doctors are registered.

The government aims to speed up the registration with the help of medical organizations and academic societies as there is no sign of the pandemic subsiding.

Under the human resource bank scheme, the government asks prefectures, government-designated and other municipalities in need of manpower if they need health care workers sent from the bank. The government will then do so based on information such as the workers’ qualifications and experience, as well as their availability in terms of location.

Prefectural and other municipal governments will directly communicate with the workers and decide on the period of the contract. Expenses such as daily pay and transportation fees will be covered mostly by the pandemic-related emergency comprehensive support grant allocated by the national government.

Eight people have already been sent to Hokkaido, where infections are rising again, and three to Nagoya as of mid-November, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The ministry plans to dispatch more in the future.

In regions with limited medical resources, a labor shortage may lead to an explosive spread of the virus as the medical care system can instantly become strained following the frequent occurrence of clusters, for example.

“The government must join regional efforts to help alleviate the situation and actively manage human resources,” said a senior government official.