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Hospitals struggle to win over the public, doctors

Update: June, 17/2014 - 08:12
A medical worker checks a baby at the Hai Ba Trung District Medical Clinic in Ha Noi. Local health centres in the city are struggling to attract more patients and doctors. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — Local hospitals and health centres at wards and communes in Ha Noi's suburban districts are struggling to acquire enough patients and doctors despite boasting well-built facilities, local media has reported.

According to a report in Kinh Te & Do Thi (Economy and Urban Affairs) newspaper, this dilemma—which means health centres in communes and wards have to suffer a dearth of patients while major hospitals in the capital are heavily overloaded—is not new but still remains quite alarming.

Located in the downtown area of Quoc Oai District, Quoc Oai Health Center has 27 rooms and spans more than 3,000 square metres.

Even with modern health equipment and machines, the centre only receives a modest number of 3,000 patients a year.

Staff said that few patients visit the centre because of its proximity to Quoc Oai General Hospital, but others prefer to go to national hospitals in the capital for more serious check-ups.

In a recent visit to the Health Center of Cau Dien in Tu Liem District, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien also expressed major concerns that the centre only handled five emergency cases per year.

According to a recent research conducted by the Ha Noi-based Health Strategy and Policy Institute, 70 per cent of the patients visiting national hospitals can actually be treated at lower level hospitals and health centres.

The research also revealed that most of the patients who come to health centres at the ward and commune levels only do so during public health campaigns.

Similarly, there have been days at the Ngoc Tao Health Center in the suburban district of Phuc Tho when not a single patient pays a visit.

During peak season, the centre witnesses around 15 patients, even less than the number of healthcare staff available here, which is 19.

The centre's director, Tran Minh Son, stated that with an infrastructure of more than 3,000 square metres, the centre is quite well-equipped with ultrasound machine, CT scanner and medical imaging machines.

Officials from the Health Department of Ha Noi had also asked local health authorities in Phuc Tho District to address the situation to attract more patients, such as holding specialised health sessions for the public or inviting doctors from national and district hospitals for training.

Son, however, believes that a long-term scheme must be established to attract more doctors to local health centres and increase the trust of patients.

Nguyen Quoc Mau, general director of Phuc Tho General District Hospital, said that even his district hospital was only able to recruit a few doctors to work here during the last 10 years.

Hoang Manh Phu, chairman of the Phuc Tho District People's Committee, hoped that the Ha Noi Health Department would increase staff-training support for the district hospitals and local health centres.

According to a hospital staff at Phuc Tho District Hospital, patients are available only when doctors from national hospitals come for visiting and training. After they leave, things are back to normal.

Nguyen Duy Anh, director of the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pointed out that they found it very difficult to execute Project 1816 because there are not enough patients at the local level to be treated and perform techniques.

Started in 2008, Project 1816 aims at sending doctors and nurses from large hospitals to provide support to those at the district and lower administrative levels, help transfer technology and skills and reduce the influx of patients at large hospitals.

Nguyen Pham Y Nhi, director of Saint Paul Hospital, said that the local health centres had been quite "a waste" if not serving enough patients.

"Ha Noi should really reassess the network of health centres and ensure that they have the required capacity to seek long-term solutions," she added. — VNS

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