Chinese psychiatrist suspended after ‘escaping’ with 64 patients to another hospital
Doctor claims second hospital had better living conditions for the patients
A senior psychiatrist in Guizhou province has been suspended after he removed 64 patients with mental health issues from their hospital without management consent.
Psychiatrist Yang Shaolei helped the patients “escape” last month from the Guihang 300 Hospital in Guiyang to the Sixth Hospital about three kilometres away.
Yang had planned to leave the Guihang 300 Hospital to work at the Sixth Hospital, along with three other doctors and four nurses, as they had been offered higher salaries at the latter institute, CCTV reported. Yang said he took the patients to his new hospital because it offered better living conditions for them.
The Guihang 300 Hospital said Yang did not go through proper discharge procedures for the patients. Yang had therefore violated the hospital’s code of practice, and the hospital would sue Yang and the colleagues who left with him, and all had been suspended from work.
Yang was quoted as saying by mainland portal Sina.com that he had called the relatives of all the patients to get their approval for the transfers, and had obtained signatures from “most of them”. No documents were submitted to his original employer, Guihang 300 Hospital said.
“Most of the patients had stayed with us for more than 10 years and we are deeply attached,” Yang said. “I wanted to find them better conditions for treatment and living.”
Yang complained that the patients did not have enough access to sunshine, which is needed for the absorption of calcium, at their original hospital, which was a public institute set up by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
“Many of them suffered bone fractures after a slight stumble,” he said.
He also decided to leave his original hospital after it recorded a loss of more than 50 million yuan (US$7.28 million) in 2016, Yang said. He said he left a resignation letter at the matron’s office before his departure but had not finished the official procedure to resign.
Another doctor with the Guihang hospital told CCTV that the Sixth Hospital, which is a private institution, offered higher salaries for doctors and better living conditions for patients. Male and female patients lived on separate floors, the doctor said.
Doctors at China’s public hospitals are not as well-paid as doctors elsewhere in the world. Some are even paid less than barbers or housekeepers for certain shifts, according to hospital officials.
Many resort to prescribing drugs that some patients claim are unnecessary but on which they earn a commission, to supplement their incomes.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced last year it was studying hiring practises at semi-government institutions such as public hospitals and universities.
On the mainland, the government decides how many people will be hired in senior positions at such facilities and employment is offered according to that quota, regardless of actual staffing needs. Funding for hospitals is also decided by quota.
The approach creates inefficiencies and the ministry aims to shift all such jobs, including those of public hospital doctors, to contract positions.
Analysts said the move was a step in the right direction and should help private hospitals attract talent.