By Wang Qingyun
Pediatricians fall short of demand in China, and they are under great pressure, Song Shuli, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Health, said at a news conference on Thursday.
Song's comment came a week after a staff member of Shenzhen Children's Hospital put up a notice on the window of the registration office, informing the patients that they would have to wait for six to eight hours before seeing a doctor.
The staff member, who worked at the registration office, quarreled with a parent who was waiting to register at around 8 pm on May 19.
The staff member later put up a poster saying, "You have to wait six to eight hours to get registered no matter whether you have a fever, diarrhea, coughing or hand, foot and mouth disease. If you can wait, then wait to get registered. If not, please go to another hospital."
Now the man has been suspended from work as punishment, said Zhong Weimei, deputy head of the hospital's office.
"His behavior was very inappropriate. He should have communicated with the parent in a good manner. And he had no right to put up such a poster. The hospital has already put up a poster to remind parents that they may need to wait at least five hours for registration during the peak months, except for urgent cases," Zhong said.
According to Zhong, the "peak months" usually begin in April and end by October, when children are exposed to higher risks of diseases such as hand, foot and mouth disease and influenza.
"From May 1 to 21, the hospital takes in more than 4,900 patients on average every day, and the largest number of patients it took in a day reached more than 5,700, which far exceeded its capability of more than 2,000 people a day," Song said at Thursday's news conference.
Zhong confirmed the figures with China Daily. "The hospital was founded in 1997, and designed its facilities and medical workers based on Shenzhen's population back then, which was about 4 million. Now the city has more than 10 million people," Zhong said.
What happened on May 19 in the hospital is by no means an individual case, said Zhong. "There are too many times when parents complain about the hours they have to wait. An adult patient can get vexed for waiting for just an hour, let alone an anxious parent whose kid is sick."
On the other hand, the hospital, which has about 320 doctors, is under great pressure because of the large workload.
"Thirty-four nurses have left since 2010. The job is risky and exhausting, and workers here are both physically and mentally stressed out," she said.
Wang Danhua, a pediatrician at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, agreed with Zhong, "Almost none of the doctors recently recruited by the hospital wanted to work as a pediatrician at first ... Six pediatricians have left the hospital for the past year."
Though the reasons for their departures are varied, "pediatricians are under great pressure and are exposed to great risks, while they don't get paid as much as other doctors do", said Wang.