Regarding the story “Abe-led government panel suggests 130,000 fewer hospital beds to reduce costs” in the Oct. 30 edition, this idea would add to the rising number of elderly people dying alone.
My father works in a small Kobe community as a general practitioner. Most of his patients are in their 70s or older, and some of them are receiving home medical care. As stated in the article, the population of elderly people is growing steadily. Visiting patients home by home takes time and would be a burden on doctors if the number of home care patients increases drastically.
On top of this is the phenomenon of seniors dying alone. According to the Cabinet Office, in the 23 wards of Tokyo, over 3,000 people over 65 or more died alone in 2015. If hospital beds were to be cut, many elderly people alone in their home would not receive the care they need in time if they have a medical emergency.
The rise in social security costs is a problem that needs to be solved, but decreasing the number of hospital beds is not the best choice. The government must think of new ideas that can save money and lessen the burden on people as much as possible.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.