Photo/Illutration Medical staff wearing raincoats as a substitute for protective gear put plastic bags over the shoes of a patient to reduce the risk of virus infections at a hospital in Yokohama in April. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

More than 43 percent of hospitals that accept COVID-19 patients have reduced or withheld winter bonuses for their medical staff because of tight finances, a survey showed.

The pandemic that started last year has hurt the finances of medical facilities around the nation, as treatment of infected individuals in serious condition took priority and patients with other ailments stayed home to avoid the novel coronavirus.

Among 614 hospitals that have received COVID-19 patients, 43.3 percent said they reduced winter bonuses, while 0.2 percent paid no bonus at all, according to the survey conducted by the Japan Hospital Association, the All Japan Hospital Association and the Japanese Association of Medicalcare Corp.

Fifty-six percent of the COVID-19 hospitals paid the winter bonuses in full, the survey showed.

The associations contacted 4,410 hospitals nationwide for the survey and collected responses from 1,475 of them.

Overall, 38.1 percent of the respondents cut winter bonuses, 0.3 percent paid no bonus, and 60.7 percent provided the full bonus payments to staff, according to the survey.

Many hospitals ran deficits between April and December 2020, which has affected the pay of front-line health care workers.

The profit ratio for all 1,475 hospitals during the period stood at minus 5.6 percent, down from minus 1.0 percent of the same period of 2019, according to the survey. 

Among the hospitals that have accepted COVID-19 patients, the loss was sharper, at minus 6.5 percent.

“The situation will be even more severe in January and February,” Takao Aizawa, head of Japan Hospital Association, said at a news conference.

The survey also looked into the amount of central government subsidies that health care organizations had received through prefectural governments as of the end of December 2020, compared with the amount they had applied for.

According to the survey, they had received 59.7 percent of the requested amounts on average.

In Saga Prefecture, the percentage was 28.5 percent, the lowest in the nation.

The ratio was 87.8 percent in Tokyo, the highest.