Scheme to let doctors open private clinics
Doctors in five mainland cities will find it much easier to set up private clinics under a new pilot programme announced by the Ministry of Health.
The move is being hailed as a boon to health care administrators, doctors and patients. Large public hospitals may also become less congested as more patients seek treatment from private practitioners.
Private clinics are common in the mainland, but local health care administrators set quotas on the number of licences granted. An unidentified official with the ministry's medical administration department said that will now change, and it should now be much easier for doctors to obtain permission to open their own clinics as long as they are qualified.
The year-long pilot scheme starts tomorrow, months after the State Council promised to attract more private investment in mainland health care services. That pledge arose out of sweeping medical reforms launched in April 2009 that aimed to improve a system deemed too expensive and inaccessible.
'Encouraging qualified doctors to run private clinics will play an important role in encouraging and guiding non-public capital to set up medical services,' the ministry said on its website. 'It will also help make medical services more accessible.'
Administrators of both conventional and traditional Chinese medicine services in the five cities - Tianjin , Shenyang, Changchun, Xiamen and Kunming - have been ordered to draft implementation plans and encourage qualified doctors to set up clinics in their communities, the website statement said.
The order also explicitly forbids medical institutions in those cities from limiting and restricting doctors from setting up clinics.
Since general practitioners are rare in the mainland, most private clinics are either specialists or traditional medicine practitioners.
Doctors applying to run their own clinics must be retired or have resigned from their positions.
Until now, the move to allow retired doctors to work privately has met its strongest resistance from health administrators and hospital presidents who don't want their staff making more money while the hospitals had to provide them with retirement benefits such as medical insurance and pension, said to Sun Jianfang, deputy director of the Institute of Dermatosis at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences,
'Doctors have called for a general registration system [that would not bind them to one institution] and for the freedom to run private practices before they retire,' Sun said. 'We are moving toward that direction, but the environment is not conducive for it yet. You can how difficult it is for retired doctors to set up a clinic?'
Feng Shiliang , president of the Liaoning Diabetic Treatment Centre, said having more private clinics would not have a big impact on the monopoly of public hospitals.
'But they will bring competition and dynamics,' he said.