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UPDATED: April 21, 2014 NO. 17 APRIL 24, 2014
Should Doctors in Public Hospitals Be Allowed to Run Private Clinics?


The Beijing Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission recently said that doctors in state-owned hospitals in the capital will be allowed to set up their own clinics, a measure to allow the public to have easier access to medical resources.

Supporters of the policy think that it will break public hospitals' perceived monopoly over the best medical resources. But it seems to have been less well received by doctors themselves. They think when a doctor takes up the responsibility of a private clinic, he or she has to sacrifice some of their personal time. As a result, patients may be worried whether overworked doctors can ensure the quality of their medical services.

In Beijing's larger hospitals, one doctor could receive an average of nearly 100 patients every day, and sometimes even around 200. If they run their own private clinics, their performance at both hospitals and their own clinics is likely to deteriorate. The following are excerpts of opinions:

Song Wenzhi (www.cnr.cn): I don't think private clinics will help relieve the difficulty of seeing a doctor. Is it really so difficult to get medical services? I don't think so. It's not difficult to see a doctor in normal hospitals, but if you want to see a good doctor at a prestigious hospital, you will find yourself frustrated. Why? First of all, there is a shortage of quality and excellent medical services on the whole. There are not enough capable doctors or capable hospitals. Beijing's hospitals also have to receive a huge number of patients from outside the city. Those who come to Beijing for treatment will not go to private clinics.

I'm worried that this new policy will trigger conflicts between doctors' formal jobs and their private work. When doctors run their own clinic, their work will be affected either in terms of quality or quantity, no matter how much time is spent on their second job.

Li Qi (www.kq36.cn): This is a good idea, but I don't think it can go far. When a hospital has a limited number of good doctors but also a lot of patients, I don't think the hospital would let their doctors leave.

The control on doctors can be relaxed in some areas. Dentists may be allowed to run private clinics, but doctors of surgery should not be casually permitted to do so.

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