Thursday, 29 October 2015

Doctors tempted by offers from private hospitals


by MICHAEL WOODHEAD
As China tries to develop its private healthcare sector, some doctors are contemplating a move from their high workload, low paid public hospital positions to the private sector. One Shanghai obstetrician with 10 years' experience was interviewed by Caijing and said he was tempted to make the move to the widening private sector, but not for financial reasons. He said he could already earn 300,000Y (US$47,000) a year in the public hospital, counting bonuses, which was comparable to the private hospital salary. What attracted him to private work was the lower workload and the opportunity to have more patient continuity.

"In public hospitals every day you need to see hundreds of patients, and you have no energy left to do academic work, research and innovative practice. In the private hospitals there is reduced patient throughput and often the patient will follow you from start to finish - and this is a more valuable medical experience," said Dr Liu. "None of my friends who have switched to a private hospital have shown any regrets," he added.

Another reason for moving into the private sector is independence, say doctors. One said that private hospitals offered more clinical and financial autonomy than a public hospital where you worked under the authority of a 'big medical leader' and were also subject to the rigid career path and control of hospital management. In a private hospital there was more opportunity to select your patients, treatments and also have an equity stake in the business, he said.

However the doctor noted that there was less job security and often questionable quality of care and backup in private hospitals compared to the public system. He noted a clear divide between domestic and foreign-funded private hospitals. Foreign joint ventures tended to have little interaction with public hospitals as the quality of care was generally good. However he saw many 'referrals' of patients from private hospitals where patients had not been properly assessed or had spent tens of thousands of yuan for minor ailments. Most of the doctors in the tertiary public hospitals would opt for foreign-invested hospitals, he suggested.

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