China / Society

Pediatrician shortage takes toll on child services

By Cang Wei in Nanjing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-21 08:33

Pediatrician shortage takes toll on child services

A large number of sick children were seen at Nanjing Children's Hospital in Jiangsu province in April due to a sudden drop in temperature. [Provided to China Daily]

Some children's hospitals in China have been shut down due to a severe shortage of pediatricians, which has brought headaches to many parents across the country.

The No 3 Hospital affiliated to Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, has stopped accepting patients, except for critical cases.

Shan Yutao, director of the hospital's medical management department said that there were five pediatricians at its emergency treatment department, who were divided into two groups and had to work 24-hour shifts.

"We cannot manage the work since some doctors quit recently," said Shan. "Four of the eight pediatricians we recruited in 2011 have quit."

Tian Man, director of the medical service department of Nanjing Children's Hospital, said that pediatricians in many hospitals are working under great pressure.

"We expected to receive 2,000 to 3,000 patients when the hospital started operating," said Tian. "But now we treat more than 5,000 patients a day. The number even surges to 7,000 in summer."

According to the Nanjing Health Bureau, the number of children in Nanjing reached 1.02 million in 2015, but there are fewer than 1,000 pediatricians in the city.

Zhou Huiyin, the mother of a four-year-old girl in Nanjing, said that it is normal to wait for more than three hours in the hospital to consult a doctor.

"The nurses first check the temperature of the child and then ask those who don't have severe fever to wait. All of the pediatricians, the nurses and the parents are exhausted."

Qiao Lixing, director of the pediatrics department at Zhongshan Hospital, said that although there are 38 pediatricians in the hospital, they can hardly meet the demand of the patients.

"The pediatricians in our hospital rarely rest during the weekend," said Qiao. "Some pediatricians have to work continuously if their patients are in danger. It always gives me big headaches if pediatricians call in sick."

Zhao Bo, a pediatrician at Nanjing Children's Hospital, said that not too many doctors want to become pediatricians due to the extreme pressure.

"Many parents easily get irritated when their children are sick," said Zhao. "Besides, many children cannot describe their symptoms clearly.

"No doubt pediatrics departments will work under even greater pressure in the near future, after the country alters its family planning policy and allows couples to have two children."

According to the health bureau, Jiangsu province issued 42,100 permits for families to have a second child in 2014.

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