Police sent in as thugs target city's hospitals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am

Officers posted to protect medical staff

A city in Fujian has stationed police at its 14 hospitals to maintain security amid medical staff complaints that hired thugs are staging frequent unrest.

One officer has been deployed as a 'deputy chief' to each hospital in Wuyishan to prevent 'professional medical protesters', who are usually hired to stage disruptions until they are compensated, the Southeast Express reported yesterday.

'Apart from maintaining order and cracking down on theft, another major role of the police is to resolve medical disputes and prevent disorder,' the report quoted police as saying.

A city health bureau employee confirmed that the policy, which took effect on Tuesday, was introduced after the provincial public security bureau and the health administration detailed the plans in a document earlier this year.

Chen Jie from the public security bureau said the policy was to improve security in hospitals.

But he denied it was put in place because the facilities had been unsafe.

He said other provincial cities were on the verge of introducing similar arrangements.

Medical scandals which have led to protests, and sometimes riots, staged by victims and their families have plagued the mainland's medical services. The disputes are one of the country's major sources of unrest.

Police have also been stationed at hospitals in other parts of the country in response to an upsurge in such conflicts.

A similar scheme was introduced in Dalian, the Dalian Evening News reported last month.

There have been complaints of families or friends of patients hiring thugs to cause disruptions even when no mishap had occurred.

A nurse at Wuyishan City Hospital said the frequent protests disrupted its day-to-day operations. 'Almost every death, except those caused by terminal cancer, will lead to protests,' she said. 'When someone dies, we expect people to stir up chaos in the hospital, even if he dies in a car crash at the scene.

'People have smashed our equipment, burned papers and candles, and left the body of the deceased in a public space in the hospital for days.'

The hospital could have to pay hundreds of thousands of yuan to settle the disputes, she added.

The nurse said the hospital's outpatient unit was shut down for a time last year after a group of people protested by leaving a corpse in the unit for days.