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China steps up efforts in public hospital reform

Updated: Jul 27,2017 7:18 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China will step up efforts to improve public hospital management in order to deepen the country’s healthcare reform, according to guidelines released on July 25.

The guidelines, released by the State Council, the country’s cabinet, aim for modern hospital management with clear responsibilities, scientific governance, efficient operation and strong supervision by 2020.

“They focus on public health at its core, keep public hospitals non-profit, and create a modern hospital management system,” said Wang Hesheng, director of the medical reform office under the State Council at a press conference regarding the guidelines.

All public hospitals in Chinese cities should carry out comprehensive reforms before the end of September and remove all the medicine markups, according to this year’s government work report.

Wang said that the prices of surgery, rehabilitation therapy, nursing care and traditional Chinese medicine treatment will be increased and that the fees for using medical equipment will be lowered.

In addition, the guidelines call for medical institutions at different levels to establish regulations on management and procedures.

“Most public hospitals do not have regulations which has led to problems such as blindly wasting hospital beds,” Yang Dungan from Peking Union College Hospital said at the press conference. “Regulations can help hospitals to improve operating efficiency.”

The guidelines also ask hospitals to form committees to offer professional advice on medical quality and pharmaceutical management.

Wang said that the guidelines highlight the responsibility of local government to establish and supervise public hospitals, and stress the importance of Party work on public hospitals.

More than 2,300 public hospitals nationwide participated in healthcare reform in 2016, according to a report issued by the healthcare reform leading group under the State Council.

The guidelines request governments at all levels to draft relevant reform plans, for example, to issue policies regarding the hierarchical medical system.

“They will help to direct resources to grassroots health institutions, and ease the burden of registration and surgery operations in public hospitals,” Wang said.

The hierarchical medical system pilot program will be expanded to reach at least 85 percent of prefecture-level regions this year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

China has earmarked over 1.4 trillion yuan ($207 billion) in its budget for health and medical expenditure in 2017.