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Community Healthcare System Needs Better Streamlining: Political Advisers
   2015-03-06 18:32:08    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Fei

A teller at a hospital [Photo: wccdaily.com.cn]

A number of advisors to this year's annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are suggesting that China's community healthcare system needs streamlining in order to relieve pressure on larger medical facilities across the country.

CRI's Liu Xiangwei has more.

 

Seeing doctors consumes a large chunk of the day for Zheng Guilan and her family.

Feverish and coughing quite a bit, the woman in her 60s travels to this medium-sized clinic early in the morning.

Zheng is very familiar with China's medical system, as not only does she have a husband around her age, but her son is battling lung cancer. Unfortunately for Ms. Zheng, her trip this time ends up as a waste of time.

"The Cancer Hospital is very far away. However, the people in this clinic say they can't do an infusion with the medicine my son got from the hospital. He has the prescription and the medicine, but they still say they can't do it. I don't get it."

Zhao Ping, director of the Cancer Hospital with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, is also a member of the country's top political advisor body.

He says shortfalls at community hospitals is a systematic problem.

"People don't trust these clinics and hospitals. The thing is, people want to go to better and larger hospitals, and so do healthcare workers. We don't have a mechanism in-place to keep our best healthcare workers at community clinics."

A lack of good medicine and facilities is a long-time issue for most community clinics.
 
Most of China's advanced medical resources are controlled by government-run, public hospitals that are located in the major cities.

As such, they're often overwhelmed with patients, as people from other parts of the country will travel to the big cities for the best treatment possible.

To solve this problem, Chinese healthcare authorities have been encouraging people to see community doctors first.

But that in itself is creating its own problems.

Community healthcare workers, such as Guo Guiyuan, says they are swamped on a daily basis.
"We are facing enormous pressure. We don't have enough personnel. We don't have enough space. The whole system needs better policies."

In response to similar complaints, doctors in large hospitals are required to work at smaller clinics for a certain amount of time. But according to national political adviser Yue Zehui, a deputy mayor of Tieling, a small northeastern city, a long-term solution should be underway.

"Eventually we have to rely on community and county-level health workers. We need more capable personnel there. The government should provide more incentives to encourage new graduates to work at community and county-level healthcare institutions."

Besides personnel shortage, more problems emerge. For example a community clinic's partner hospital may not be well equipped to treat a patient's specific problem.

Li Weimin, director of the Lugu Community Health Center in Beijing, says there is a simple solution.

"I think we need an bigger referral pool that is based on patients' needs. They should be allowed to be referred to any general or specified hospitals in the city. Only then will patients begin to trust community clinics and hospitals more."

To further reform China's medical system tops the government's agenda for this year. And the concensus is that the future lies in offering people with health care services at community or county level, though it still has a long way to go.

For CRI, I'm Liu Xiangwei.

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