Nov 03, 2016 06:43 PM

China Considers Allowing Public Hospital Doctors to Open Private Clinics

(Beijing) - Health regulators in China are soliciting public feedback on a proposed policy change that would allow doctors at public hospitals to open their own clinics to increase the supply and improve the quality of medical services.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission released a draft revision to a 1994 regulation on public hospitals. The commission proposed to drop a clause barring public hospital doctors from starting their own clinics in an industry still largely dominated by government-run hospitals.

The proposed change comes nearly two years after regulators moved to loosen control of doctors at public hospitals. They are now allowed to practice at multiple facilities to ratchet up supply amid rising public discontent about the level of services available at public hospitals and a lack of options elsewhere.

Under mounting pressure, regulators are also slowly opening the medical industry to private investment. This comes as a growing number of high-profile medical professionals have left public hospitals for more promising careers in the private sector.

Yu Ying, a former emergency room physician at Peking Union Medical College Hospital and a star blogger, said that it makes sense to allow public hospital doctors to practice at other facilities or to open their own clinics because too much talent is being wasted at public hospitals.

However, at present, doctors who wish to open their own clinics need the approval of the public hospital where they work.

And bureaucracy and red tape often stand in the way. For example, an environmental impact assessment is required before a private clinic can be launched, she said. And doctors could face many other hurdles at public hospitals where they work, Yu said.

Regulators must bring in stronger management at public hospitals to reduce red tape at government-run hospitals, according to Yu, who left Peking Union Medical College Hospital for her own clinic in 2013.

"Public hospitals are reluctant to let their doctors go and practice elsewhere or open their own clinics because they [hospitals] might just feel they do not stand to gain anything" she said.

"If the hospitals want, they can always find a way to stop you."

Contact reporter Li Rongde (; editor Ken Howe (

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