Hospitals to improve public relations

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-27 07:31

Doctors and nurses examine a patient while wearing helmets at a hospital in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province December 24, 2006. The crew of the hospital all wear helmets in case that relatives of a patient who died in the hospital come and strike. [Guangzhou Daily]

Health Ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an on Thursday suggested that hospitals appoint spokespersons to better communicate with the media and the public.

"Some hospitals complain that they have been demonized by the media," he was quoted as saying by the China News Service. "My suggestion is that they should learn how to communicate with the media."

The report said Mao admitted conflicts between hospitals and patients have been escalating in recent years because of misconduct on the part of a small number of hospitals and doctors, such as taking bribes.

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But the lack of communication between hospitals and the media, which has resulted in misunderstandings and negative reports, also contributes to the rising conflicts, according to the spokesman.

"The media should be our friends instead of enemies," Mao, who has been representing the ministry for more than three years, was quoted as saying.

"If the media is not given accurate information, how could it forward the right message to the public?"

He said hospitals at all levels should appoint spokespersons and set up a news briefing mechanism to make themselves more transparent.

He suggested that hospital presidents read pamphlets published by some schools of journalism and communication to learn how to handle the media.

The local media reported on Wednesday that the prestigious Beijing Tongren Hospital had set up an information office and named a spokesman.

Vice-president of the hospital Wang Ningli, the new spokesman, was quoted as saying he would like to be "a bridge between patients and the hospital".

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said earlier this month that it plans to hold regular training classes for reporters to help them become more professional.

(China Daily 01/27/2007 page3)

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