More than 4,000 nurses gathered outside the Donga Duty Free Store in central Seoul’s Jongno district on Thursday to demand better working conditions and the speedy enactment of a nursing law.
The Korean Nurses Association and the Korean Union of Health and Medical Workers organized the rally in time for the 51st International Nurses Day, which was celebrated on Thursday.
Many nurses want a nursing law separate from the medical services law to clarify the scope of their work and improve their working conditions. Medical groups such as the Korea Medical Association – made up of doctors – have opposed such a law due to concerns that it could violate certain obligations covered by a doctor’s license.
“Ruling and opposition parties have all pledged the enactment of a nursing law,” Shin Kyung-rim, president of the Korea Nurses Association, said at the rally on Thursday.
“Praise for nurses for being heroes during the pandemic is just words with no follow-up,” Shin continued. “If there is no tangible result soon, we will declare a nationwide strike with other medical groups such as the Korean Union of Health and Medical Workers.”
In addition, the Korea Nurses Association demanded that the number of patients per nurse be institutionally limited and that the legal system be reorganized to improve the treatment of nurses.
“The issue of worker shortages in the nursing community has never been resolved,” Ms Yoon, a 47-year-old nurse with 23 years of experience in the field, said at the rally.. “Especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt like I was trying to squeeze water out of a dry towel for two whole years.
“A nurse has to take care of an average of 15 patients,” Yoon continued, “which is too much.”
In a survey conducted by the Korean Union of Health and Healthcare Workers in January, the number of patients treated by a nurse averaged 15.2. Nurses say between five and ten patients is the appropriate number.
“I commend you all for your efforts to enact nursing legislation,” said Elizabeth Iro, chief nursing officer at the World Health Organization in a congratulatory message via videoconference. “I hope that a nursing law in your country will be enacted.”
“In the future, nurses should put more effort into research and innovation to promote health and prevent and prepare for global infectious diseases,” Iro said.
BY YANG SU-MIN, LIM JEONG-WON [[email protected]]