Chinese rural doctors threaten mass resignations for being overworked and underpaid

11-Jul-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A group of rural doctors in central China attempted to resign en masse complaining that they were overworked and underpaid.

“Because pressure at work has increased, and the higher-ups are taking more and more funds, we receive less and less money,” said the letter dated June 28 and signed by 36 doctors from the town of Zhusha in Tongxu county, Henan province.

“Now, we village doctors cannot sustain our livelihood.”

The letter was circulated widely on social media and a second mass resignation letter this one signed at the end of last month by 28 doctors from Dagangli village in Tongxu, also started circulating this week.

However it remained unclear whether the doctors had actually been able to resign.

The local government issued a statement on Friday, insisting the first group of doctors were still at work, adding that their complaints had been investigated and many had been found to be groundless.

The county government insisted that the doctors’ claims that rural cooperatives were deducting money from their pay were untrue, or that they were overwhelmed with work and that the prices of essential drugs had doubled.

The statement added that doctors’ claims that they got less than 10 yuan (US$1.45) of the basic state medical subsidy per village resident were false, adding that the national subsidy had been set at 14.53 yuan per person last year.

Tongxu county acknowledged that there had been delays in allocating public health funding for the area, which led to problems with grass-roots health services, and said that this year’s health subsidies would be paid to doctors before July 20.

On Monday the National Health Commission also weighed into the dispute, saying it took the claims seriously and had asked the Henan health commission to start an investigation to get to the bottom of the matter. Tongxu county government could not be reached for comment.

One unnamed rural doctor from Henan province told Daily Economic News that most of the basic state health service subsidies allocated by the government go to larger hospitals first and then to the village clinics, leaving rural doctors with less cash in hand.

The doctor also said that rural doctors’ salaries had dropped significantly as patient numbers have decreased due to urban migration, so fewer young people remain in the trade.

“When I first started out, a doctor made two to three times as much as a construction worker, now three doctors’ salaries are equivalent to one construction worker’s salary,” the doctor was quoted as saying, adding that an average rural doctor could make 100 yuan a day.

While China’s urban centres have experienced fast economic development, health care in its rural areas is still lagging far behind.

China had around 900,000 rural doctors left in 2017 but many are leaving the profession, citing low pay and tough living conditions.


Category: China

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