Measures to Correct Uneven Distribution of Doctors in an Era of Surplus

Other measures to correct uneven distribution are needed, not just the medical training courses


June 28, 2022

  • Miku Ishibashi


◆Studies are underway toward the formulation of the eighth medical plan covering the six years from FY2024 to FY2029.

◆Medical practitioner recruitment plans, which are part of these plans, are also reviewed by each prefecture in accordance with the national policy. The medical practitioner security plan is a plan in which the prefecture decides on concrete measures for medical practitioner security in the region based on the uneven distribution index of medical practitioners as indicated by the central government. On a nationwide basis, the number of physicians is increasing year by year amid the continuing population decline. Estimates for 2020 suggest that the supply and demand of doctors will be balanced as early as 2029 and at the latest in 2032, after which they will be in excess supply.

◆It is necessary to review the pace of increase in the number of doctors, and the focus of attention is on policy from FY2024 onward, when the government will present its policy on how physicians should be trained for the next plan.

◆However, in regions with a shortage of doctors, there are major concerns about reducing the number of the doctors in training, and hence measures to correct the uneven distribution of doctors is indispensable.

◆In this regard, the past measures to address uneven distribution that have focused on training programs are beginning to show their limits. Although temporary increases in medical school enrollment capacity have been implemented to correct the uneven distribution of students between regions and hospitals, the effects have not been fully realized. In the future, it will be necessary to consider measures to address uneven distribution of doctors, including those after training.

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