Fam­ily doc­tor’s qual­ity ser­vice mat­ters

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - AT LEAST 35 PER­CENT OF BEI­JING HOUSE­HOLDS

will be cov­ered by fam­ily doc­tor ser­vice at the end of this year. All lo­cal house­holds will en­joy the ser­vice as of 2020, ac­cord­ing to the Mu­nic­i­pal Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion. Yanzhao Metropo­lis Daily com­mented on Tues­day:

It is good that Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties can ex­pect more gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers, who do not spe­cial­ize in any par­tic­u­lar area of medicine but who are able to treat the gen­eral health prob­lems for peo­ple of all ages. By the end of last year over 7.7 mil­lion res­i­dents in Bei­jing had re­port­edly signed up for fam­ily doc­tor ser­vices, ac­count­ing for more than 35 per­cent of the city’s per­ma­nent pop­u­la­tion.

Since 2009 China has launched scores of pro­grams na­tion­wide to en­sure cit­i­zens have fairer ac­cess to el­e­men­tary pub­lic health ser­vices, among which the in­tro­duc­tion of fam­ily doc­tors has been one of the most suc­cess­ful. Some 26 pro­vin­cial-level re­gions have is­sued guide­lines on the pro­mo­tion of the fam­ily doc­tor ser­vice. And four months ago, Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said in this year’s Gov­ern­ment Work Re­port

that the ser­vice should cover at least 85 per­cent of the Chi­nese cities this year.

The ex­pand­ing cov­er­age, how­ever, may not guar­an­tee more res­i­dents will be of­fered qual­ity med­i­cal ser­vices.

Fam­ily doc­tors in some places rarely visit the fam­i­lies they are as­signed to, and some of them have been strug­gling to solve pa­tients’ prob­lems ei­ther be­cause of their in­com­pe­tence or be­cause they have too many house­holds to at­tend to. In some cases, a fam­ily doc­tor might be as­signed to see hun­dreds of res­i­dents a day.

That high­lights the need to op­ti­mize the al­lo­ca­tion of med­i­cal re­sources and to of­fer proper in­cen­tives to fam­ily doc­tors, who should get pa­tients to make ap­point­ments rather than em­ploy­ing makeshift ar­range­ments.

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