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China introduces incentives to promote general practitioners

Updated: Jan 26,2018 11:07 AM

The term general practitioner, or GP, refers to medical workers, who work in primary medical institutions and carry out integrated tasks. Referred to as the “gatekeepers” of people’s health, GPs treat common diseases and promote healthcare knowledge, serving as family doctors.

As part of efforts to pave the way for a tiered medical system, the Chinese government has announced detailed policies to increase salaries for GPs, encourage private GP clinics, and promote medical education.

The number of GPs in China has doubled to 209,000 since 2012. New measures are designed to bring that number up to over 300,000 by 2020, and to 700,000 by 2030 until there are at least five GPs for every 10,000 people in China.

“This document answers the most prominent problems, including how attractive it is to work as a GP,” said Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission. “There will be breakthroughs in salary levels and job promotions, in order to attract more young talent.”

According to the new policy, a GP holding a bachelor’s degree will be treated the same as his or her peer with a master’s degree during the recruitment and promotion decisions — if they work at a community medical institution. What’s more, they won’t need to show any foreign language scores while applying for senior professional titles.

“Since 2010, we have helped over 40,000 people with bachelor’s degree titles to become GPs in mid-western regions, for free. It enabled each county-level clinic to have one GP with a bachelor’s degree,” said Wu Yang, director of Higher Education Department at the Ministry of Education.

The ministry has also announced plans to set up national standards for GP training.

More medical education institutes are expected to create more bachelor’s degree programs. At the same time, the government is encouraging private GP clinics, as part of a tiered medical system.

According to China’s health authority, over 80 percent of patients will be able to see a GP at a primary clinic in the future, instead of having to crowd inside a big hospital.