GP system planned after student death uproar

Updated: 2016-05-13 07:35

By Shan Juan(China Daily)

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 GP system planned after student death uproar

A patient waits at the front gate of the Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps. The hospital made headlines around the world after the death of cancer patient Wei Zexi, who underwent experimental treatment at a clinic in its grounds. Wei Xiaohao / China Daily


Limited information

Few people in China are registered with general practitioners, and limited public access to information related to health and medicine means they have to resort to other methods to learn about health issues.

"So the internet, specifically the nation's search giant Baidu, has become the most-popular accessible resource," Liu said.

He said family doctors can cover most healthcare needs, such as disease prevention and sustained treatment, particularly for chronic conditions, but in an effective primary healthcare system, general practitioners can refer patients to qualified specialists if necessary.

"They can serve as the gatekeepers for primary healthcare and individual health," he said.

Du Xueping, head of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association's general practice committee, said the lack of a GP system means people swarm to large public hospitals, even for minor ailments such as common colds.

She said the authorities have acknowledged the challenges of establishing a family doctor system in China: "A link to health insurance is being considered to make sure people turn to family doctors first."

The State Council has now ordered greater efforts to increase access to family doctors and establish a GP system by improving career security for doctors and diverting more resources to the grassroots.

Liu, of Peking Union Medical College, urged the establishment of a dedicated search engine that would provide healthcare information to help people to identify misleading information and make informed choices.

He said the system would resemble NHS Choices, the official website of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, which is free from commercial involvement.

Launched in 2007, NHS Choices is the UK's biggest medical website, accounting for about 25 percent of all health-related web traffic, such as searches for information about symptoms, illnesses and the most up-to-date treatments, according to Liu.