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Evening clinic cancellation to affect 10 million

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A hospital reform committee yesterday announced that evening clinics will be canceled at most hospitals after the Chinese New Year holidays in response to the Council of Labor Affairs canceling flexible working hours for hospital staff.

According to the committee, with the flexible hours being canceled, there will not be enough people to staff the hospitals. Therefore, each hospital will have to gradually cancel evening and weekend clinics in order to meet the demand for human resources.

Based on the announcement of the Council of Labor Affairs, all hospital staff are to have fixed working hours that will prevent them from overwork starting Jan. 1.

According to the National Health Administration, about 10 million people may be affected by the cancellation of evening and weekend clinics.

The committee said that many hospitals have already said they are willing to cooperate with this policy after Chinese New Year.

Hsieh Wu-chi (謝武吉) of the committee said that hospitals had been trying to talk to the Council of Labor Affairs about not canceling flexible working hours, but since the cancellation is about to take place at the beginning of 2014, the hospitals will definitely cooperate with the council's instructions.

According to Hsieh, there is no regulation against canceling evening and weekend clinics, so if the committee discovers any hospitals that do not cancel evening and weekend clinics or force hospital staff to work over eight hours a day, the committee will report that hospital to relevant authorities without hesitation.

Farfetched Reasoning: CLA

The Council of Labor Affairs yesterday said that the council and the hospitals already reached an agreement two years ago and the committee's reason to cancel evening and weekend clinics is too farfetched.

According to the council, after the flexible working hours policy is canceled for hospital staff, the total work hours for hospital staff will only decrease by two hours per month, which should not greatly affect the working schedule for hospitals.

The council said that most hospital staff already have fixed working hours, so the hospitals should not cancel evening and weekend clinics simply because staff are now required to have fixed working hours.

According to the council, after the new policy is launched, the working hour limit for hospital staff will decrease from 240 hours to 238 hours per month.

The council said that the hospitals have two years to make a plan on how to increase human resources or make adjustments in response to fixed working hours for hospital staff, but they did not take any actions. Therefore, the committee's reason to cancel the evening and weekend clinics was not convincing.

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