Sunday, 14 September 2014

Intern scheme concerns | Telehealth ban sparks backlash | Rural residents too poor to pay for care

Internship scheme will create bottlenecks and headaches
Doctor training moves to a three-year internship system next year but many medics believe the changes will leave hospitals with even worse staffing shortages. The new system which will see newly-graduated doctors rotate through various hospital departments to gain experience is intended to bring China into line with other countries and to create a uniform high standard of medical practitioners. However, critics warn that the additional three years of being a trainee will mean that doctors earn very little and the low income will deter many from entering the medical profession. Another drawback of the new system is that doctors will serve as interns in tertiary 'teaching hospitals' and will then refuse to be 'downgraded' to work in smaller local country and township hospitals.

Ban on telehealth consultations triggers backlash
There has been a major backlash against an announcement that doctors will be banned from conducting online consultations by the National Health and Family Planning Commissioning. The NHFPC said this week that 'remote' consultations are illegal except through accredited medical institutions because all doctor consultations need to be carried out according to the regulations of the NHFPC as currently laid down for hospitals and clinics. The NHFPC said remote consultations should be viewed as no different to any other kind of consultation and therefore all the usual regulations on medical practice apply. However, after a major backlash from health groups and online health providers such as, the NHFPC said it would look again at the legislation and would 'listen to the opinion of the masses' in interpreting the legislation.

Rural health insurance not working
People who live in remote rural areas of China are so poor they cannot afford to seek medical attention when they are sick,  a study from Hebei has found. More than 50% of people living in the Dabie mountain areas of Hebei said they would not seek medical care if they felt unwell. The main reason (for 38% of people) was financial difficulty. Other reasons included inconvenience and preference to self medicate. Researcher Dr Fang Pengqian and colleagues from the Tongji Medical College, Wuhan said the findings suggested that the universal health coverage from the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) was was not working for people in poorer highland areas. They said the locals could not afford to pay the necessary insurance premiums to  cover basic care and the low reimbursement meant they faced high out-of-pocket costs.

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