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Taiwan grappling with nurse exodus amid COVID surge

Discrimination, wage stagnation to blame for mass resignations of nurses

Nurse in Taiwan (Facebook, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je)

Nurse in Taiwan (Facebook, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is experiencing an exodus of nurses due to the mounting pressure of the nation's COVID-19 response and stagnant wage growth over the past four years.

Exhaustion, discrimination, unfair treatment, and violence have led to a surge of upset nurses quitting as Taiwan grapples with its worst coronavirus outbreak. A total of 795 nursing workers left their jobs between February and May this year, UDN cited the Taiwan Nursing and Medical Industries Union (TNMIU) as saying.

Veteran nurse-turned-legislator Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如) lamented the predicament facing the country’s nurses in a Facebook post on Monday (June 7). A nurse who fights on the frontlines of the COVID battle said her mother-in-law had threatened to forbid her from returning home, Tsai wrote, adding that growing discontent about COVID restrictions and a rise in cases are putting a strain on medical staff both mentally and physically, she reckoned.

In addition to the pandemic-induced stress, wage stagnation is another reason driving nurses away. The 104 Job Bank pointed out that the average monthly wage for nurses in Taiwan has hovered around NT$40,000 (US$1,443) for four years, with just a 5.3 percent pay increase in the past five years, based on data from 24,000 nurses' resumés.

Tsai has called for more to be done to help relieve the burden of frontline workers. Action should be taken to better coordinate resources for treating the seriously ill, grant COVID subsidies in a timely manner, provide COVID-related insurance coverage, and more.