Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <OhmyNews> on April 20, 2013, reporting the cause of operational loss analyzed by Ministry of Health and Welfare, whose conclusion was diametrically different from that of Gyeongnam province’s claim. All rights regarding this post stay with the author(s) of the original article or with <OhmyNews> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In the post, I tried to match the English translation of names of people / institution(s) / position(s) to authentic one(s) as much as possible but, unfortunately, some of them still can be different. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link at the bottom.
Reporter So-hee Park 박소희(sost)
Gyeongsangnam-do province has alwasy claimed that “It is mainly the excessive labor cost that has caused the debt skyrocketing and ‘strong union’ is responsible for it.” The union has retorted back the allegation that “It is the plummeting number of outpatients after relocation in 2008 that should be blamed.” However, it turned out that Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) also concluded as the union did after an internal review. Furthermore, ‘union’ never appeared as a cause of loss in MOHW review.
According to a statistics report MOHW released to National Assembly this month, MOHW said “plummeting number of patients, outpatients in particular, due to worsened accessibility from relocation to city outskirts looks like the main reason for management aggravation.”
The number of Jinju Medical Center outpatients was 85,847 in 2006, 97,332 in 2007. However, it dropped to 80,485 in 2008 when the hospital relocated to city outskirt. It rebounded to 99,985 in 2009 but dropped to 77,806 in 2010 and stayed at that level afterwards.
Jinju Medical Center installed numerous new equipments during the relocation. The size also swelled from 200 beds to 320 beds and labor cost also jumped from 7.3 billion won in 2007 to 9.1 billion won in 2008. As a result, the medical cost increased 5.9 billion won compared to one year earlier but medical income increased only 3.1 billion won. Earning of 4.182 billion won in 2007 climbed only to 5.929 billion won in 2008.
MOHW concluded that “The proportion of labor cost is high since the medical income itself is small in absolute terms not because wages are high.”
“Compared with other regional medical centers, doctors’ wages are high but nurses’ and other workers’ wages are low”
Average wage for medical doctors of Jinju Medical Center was 167.58 million won in 2011, which was lower than that of a private hospital nearby (252 million won in 2010). However, average wages for nurses and other workers were 35.38 million won and 33.364 million won, which was about 5.19 million won and 7.8 million won more than the local hospital, respectively. Gyeongnam’s claim that ‘Jinju Medical Center wages are high compared with similar private hospitals’ turned out to be partially true. However, MOHW surmised that it was due to pay grade from extended period of employment.
Also, MOHW added “Compared with other regional medical centers, medical doctors’ average wage for Jinju Medical Center is high but nurses’ and office workers’ wages are low.” In 2011, average wage for medical doctor, nurse, and office worker in regional medical centers were 121.94 million won, 37.09 million won, and 37.43 million won, respectively.
MOHW also regarded ‘Jinju Medical Center cannot get away from the quagmire of chronic loss due to strong union and high labor cost structure’ unpersuasive.
Another cause of management aggravation is the medical staff. MOHW considered “continued change of doctors caused plunge of patient numbers and aggravated the management.” Five doctors in 2010 and two doctors in 2011 moved to other hospitals. 35.7% of medical profits came from internal medicine department in 2012 but the doctor quit working for Jinju Medical Center that year.
MOHW concluded the cause of loss analysis “Jinju Medical Center’s budget for public purpose is just 60 million won annually which is insignificant to operational loss totaling 6.9 billion won.” In nowhere we can find ‘union’.