Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Foreign firms plan family practice GP clinic expansion in China

China has only 78,000 GPs but US companies plan to open community clinics
by Yang Wanli
Foreign medical clinics are expected to serve more people in China as United Family Healthcare (UFH) opened its fourth high-end community clinic in Beijing on Dec 10, with plans to expand nationwide.
"Family practice will be the core competitive power of the new clinics and we will bring the service of general practitioners' in the US to residents in China," said Pan Zhongying, president of the Beijing United Family Hospital, headquarters of UF — China's largest foreign-invested healthcare provider.
China's Ministry of Health started to promote the training of general parishioners, known as GPs, nationwide in 2006. The support of GPs is to encourage more patients to get treatment in residential clinics, relieving the pressure on hospitals.
Statistics from the ministry show that in 2011, the country only has 78,000 GPs. The ministry will train more GPs, with 300,000 to 400,0000 GPs expected to be working in China by 2020, meaning every 10,000 residents will have access to at least two or three GPs. However, low pay and doubts from patients as to the ability of GPs to properly treat them, has discouraged would-be GPs in medical college.
"GP's have a lower, but a still respectable income in the US, about $160,000 annually. Specialists earn double, but the government has policies supporting GPs, including free tuition fees in college if they are willing to work in rural areas," said Andy Wang, chairman of the department of family medicine in Beijing United Family Hospital.
Wang has worked in the hospital for six years and said the hospital's other three clinics, targeting community family practice, witnessed an increase in visits from local Chinese people. UFH will expand the family practice service nationwide. Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong province, may be the next location for a clinic.
Source: People's Daily

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