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Govt vows to upgrade hospital services

By Shan Juan  (China Daily)

08:58, September 18, 2012

Improving public medical units long considered toughest task

China will firmly push forward reform programs at public hospitals, which currently supply more than 90 percent of the nation's medical care, Minister of Health Chen Zhu said at a news conference on Monday.

Chen said public hospitals will see moderate development as more room will be made for growth of private investments in the sector. China currently has more than 13,000 public hospitals.

To date, reform programs have been launched in more than 2,000 public hospitals, mainly at the county level, and "we'll expand that into more than 300 additional counties within the year", he said.

"In coming years, the priority of public hospitals should be shifted to the improvement of medical treatment and service quality while providing basic medical care for the people," he said.

Under the medical reforms launched by the central government in 2009, public hospital reform has long been considered the toughest task, experts said.

For a long time, public hospitals have been harshly criticized for their random prescriptions, high prices and inadequate medical resources. Doctors were wrongly encouraged to prescribe expensive or unnecessary drugs to patients, from which hospitals usually sought profits.

"Treating a common cold could easily cost me several hundred yuan," said Huo Jian, an office clerk in Beijing.

Despite that, key public hospitals were usually crowded as veteran doctors have always been scarce, she complained, adding that she used to pay an extra 500 yuan ($79) to see a specialist.

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