Overworked Japan nurses quitting as they face discrimination from neighbours over Covid
Nurses from over 20 percent of Japanese hospitals handling coronavirus have resigned citing abuse and discrimination - Carl Court / Getty Images AsiaPac
In the first seven months of the pandemic, nurses from more than 20 percent of Japanese hospitals designated to treat coronavirus cases resigned, with the majority leaving for abuse and discrimination against people around them.
A study by the Japan Nursing Association found that nurses across the country are also leaving the job due to the excessive work demands resulting from the pandemic and the risk of infection.
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Toshiko Fukui, president of the association, said there is widespread misfortune among nurses that they are being asked to perform additional duties like changing beds and cleaning wards, while many financially troubled hospitals have announced that they will cut salaries and traditional year-end bonuses that have been completely canceled.
But it is the prejudice and aggression against nurses that are particularly worrying, Ms. Fukui said, citing a case in which a member of the club was accused of "spreading" the infection while it was outside the hospital located where she worked.
Another nurse in protective clothing said she was the target of an angry coronavirus patient who accused her of being "dramatic".
"The healthcare system is reaching its limits," said Ms. Fukui. "I want people to understand that there are cases when thoughtless words act as a trigger and the nursing staff cannot continue working."
Yoko Tsukamoto, professor of infection control at the University of Health Sciences in Hokkaido, said many of the nurses she trains have been the target of unprovoked criticism when they are doing their jobs or even when they are with friends or family.
"In the hospitals I've worked with nurses in, they try to rate their positions positively, but some of them have contracted the virus and are now receiving this type of abuse," she said.
“And it goes beyond what they are told directly; There are instances where schools tell nurse's children that they can no longer attend classes and that nurse's husbands are instructed by their companies to work from home indefinitely, "she told The Telegraph.
"For many nurses, situations like this are the reason they quit".
Ms. Tsukamoto said people are "simply afraid of something that is a threat to them but that they cannot see," adding that families who were forced to evacuate their communities after the reactors collapsed in northern Japan The Fukushima nuclear power plant was similarly discriminated against in March 2011.
Likewise, Hiroshima residents were shunned in the years after the city was the target of the atomic bomb in 1945 due to a vaguely defined fear of radiation-related illness, Ms. Tsukamoto added.
"Nurses I know have come in from hospitals and tried to take a taxi home, but the drivers drive right past them," she said.
"And when I go home my family always says something about bringing the virus into the house," she said. "I know you're kidding, but as a healthcare professional, hearing from your own family every day can be a bit of a hassle."
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