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Deputy's proposal wins Xi's approval

By Shan Juan and Wang Qian ( China Daily USA )

Updated: 2014-03-10

President joins legislators in talking about increasing hospital security

Legislator Shu Xiaomei became the center of attention on Friday after President Xi Jinping expressed support for her proposals to improve hospital security and offer medical personnel more protection from violent assaults.

Surrounded by reporters, Shu, who is also a leading pediatrician at the Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical College, Guizhou province, spoke about her "once in a lifetime" experience.

"I didn't expect President Xi would react to my five-minute speech this morning on violence against doctors. My mind almost went blank at the time, but now I feel encouraged and confident of a better future," she told China Daily on Friday afternoon.

At a Friday morning panel discussion of National People's Congress deputies from Guizhou - taking place during the annual two sessions of the nation's top legislature and political advisory body in Beijing - the president championed the nation's medical workers, dubbed "one of the most dangerous occupations" in China.

"The normal order of the hospital must be maintained to protect the personal security of medical workers," Xi said. "Violent assaults against medics are crimes that must be harshly punished in accordance with the law".

His remarks came in response to Shu's speech at the session and received a huge ovation from the gathering.

China has been struggling with rising violence against medical workers.

On Wednesday, a young doctor at Chaozhou Central Hospital in southern Guangdong province was humiliated in a forced parade over a patient's death.

Last month, a doctor from Heilongjiang province was beaten to death by a patient over unsatisfactory treatment.

During her speech, Shu said: "Such violent incidents make doctors feel unsafe and seriously affect natural sympathy for patients. That in turn harms both doctors and patients."

She said that most doctors at large public hospitals are disciplined and should not be the target of violence.

But in recent years, patient complaints over the high cost of drugs and examination prescriptions have mounted.

To address the problem, China launched a medical reform in 2009 to establish basic universal healthcare.

But reforms at public hospitals remain at a fledgling level, Li Bin, the minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission said at a news conference Thursday.

In China, most medical care is provided by public hospitals, which recorded 7.3 billion outpatient consultations in 2013, official statistics showed.

Zhong Nanshan, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an NPC deputy, said strained doctor-patient relations won't improve without an overhaul to the healthcare system.

Yang Aiming, a leading physician at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, agreed, noted both the increasing demand for quality medical care and the system's limited capacity.

"Patients complain about the lack of access to good services, but that's not the doctors' fault," said Yang, also a national political adviser.

As a clinical doctor, Yang said he welcomes Xi's support and awaits concrete measures to be introduced.

"Over the past five or six years, I've personally received increasing complaints from patients about not being able to get in to see me - sometimes in forms that are neither polite nor rational," he added.

But he said he realizes that the reforms will take time, "even with a positive response from the president."

Another CPPCC member, Ling Feng, an expert at Xuanwu Hospital of the Capital Medical University, said she can't wait any longer.

After she proposed that the public security authority beef up efforts to keep hospitals secure, her proposal was signed by all 89 CPPCC members of the health sector.

Current laws on the public security administration have to be revised in order to recognize hospitals as public places like department stores or parks, she said. Hospitals now are legally categorized as units covered mainly by internal security efforts, which has made the police reluctant to help unless serious violence is involved, she explained.

Contact the writer at shanjuan@chinadaily.com.cn

Zhao Shengnan contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 03/10/2014 page5)

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