2 Apr 2010 11:36

China to increase general practitioners in grassroots medical institutions

Karl Zhong

Shanghai. April 2. INTERFAX-CHINA - The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on April 1 that six government agencies have jointly issued a plan to beef up the number of general practitioners (GP) in grassroots medical institutions.

The plan, issued by government agencies including NDRC, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, aims to train 60,000 GPs, of which 10,000 GPs will be fresh graduates while the remaining will comprise of existing doctors from grassroots medical institutions, from 2010 to 2012.

At present, the MoH only allows the GP license to be granted to doctors who hold a bachelor's degree and who have middle and senior level designations at the workplace. The majority of doctors working in grassroots medical institutions in China do not hold medical degrees and may not even have bachelors degrees, but became eligible to practice medicine through training and other educational means.

According to the plan, China aims to train 300,000 GPs by 2020 to improve the quality of medical service in grassroots medical institutions. Medical universities and colleges will be required to recruit more students, especially in China's central and western regions. Health departments at the various levels will also organize trainings for existing doctors in grassroots medical institutions.

"About half of the doctors in grassroots medical institutions in Sichuan Province who will become GPs have received trainings while in the coastal provinces and developed regions, nearly all the doctors in grassroots medical institutions who will become GPs have completed training by now," an official from Sichuan Provincial Health Department-affiliated Sichuan Provincial General Practitioners Training Center, surnamed Qin, told Interfax on April 2.

The plan specifies that incentives such as tuition subsidies and loans will be used to attract medical graduates to work in grassroots medical institutions. Likewise, doctors from hospitals in cities will be encouraged to work in grassroots medical institutions.

Government agencies will eventually formulate measures to re-evaluate workplace designations for doctors, encourage more GPs to develop their career in grassroots medical institutions, lay out how grassroots medical institutions can allocate subsidies for GPs as well as how comprehensive hospitals can set up GP departments, according to the announcement.

"Government agencies are currently examining the criteria for the GP license. Perhaps eventually such criteria may be revised in underdeveloped regions so as to meet the medical demands in these regions," Qin said.

- KZ