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China encourages private investment in hospitals: minister

(Xinhua)

09:44, September 19, 2012

BEIJING, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese government plans to encourage more private investment in the country's hospitals, Health Minister Chen Zhu said Monday.

In 2011, there were 3.81 hospital beds for every 1,000 Chinese people, which is a high rate among developing countries, Chen told a press conference.

He said public hospitals would see moderate development while more room would be made for growth of private investment in the sector.

Qualified private investors would be given priority to new hospital constructions, he said.

Efforts should be made in planning and management of medical resources to secure orderly development for private health care institutions, Chen said.

The minister pointed out that the government would also encourage private funds to invest in construction of rehabilitation hospitals, nursing homes, geriatric and chronic disease hospitals. Chen also called on private hospitals to improve their service quality and efficiency.

At the end of 2011, there were around 22,000 hospitals and 918,000 grassroots-level clinics across the country. The number of medical practitioners for every 1,000 residents increased from 1.47 in 2002 to 1.82 last year, Chen said.

The accessibility of health care services for residents has improved, the minister said, noting that hospitals and clinics nationwide had received 6.27 billion outpatients and 150 million inpatients in 2011.

China currently has more than 6,000 private hospitals, making up one third of the country's total, but the numbers of beds and patients received at these hospitals only account for 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of the total, he said.

The proportion rates of hospital beds and patient volume provided at private hospitals should double by the end of 2015, as the country pledged for both rates to reach 20 percent during the 12th Five Year Plan period (2011-2015), according to Chen.

At the press conference, the minister expressed his appreciation over the commitment of medical workers of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the mainland.

Medical workers from Hong Kong worked with their mainland peers on a number of projects, including one that has helped 100,000 impoverished cataract patients restore their sight through free eye surgery, Chen said.

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