China plans major healthcare shakeup with focus on private hospitals

China's government plans a shakeup in the nation's healthcare system over the next 5 years with goals of increasing the ratio of medical personnel to patients and encouraging more private clinics and hospitals. The goal also is to step up the quality of medical services and the expertise behind them.

The plan was outlined in a "guideline" by the State Council, the nation's cabinet, which recently completed its 5-year plan reaching through 2020. The most dramatic elements in the plan include a near doubling of the number of physicians and increasing the ratios of hospital beds and nurses per population by 50%.

Although those changes and increases could spur a greater use of medicines and devices, the guideline also plans to crack down on what it calls purchases of "unnecessary equipment" as part of an overall plan to reduce costs and make the medical system more efficient.

Today, 90% of China's hospitals are public. The guideline aims to promote development of private hospitals and combinations of public and private. By 2020, the plan is to have private hospitals provide 1.5 hospital beds for every 1,000 people and account for a third of the nation's hospitals. The overall bed to 1,000 people ratio is 4.55 now; it will increase to 6 in 2020.

The general practitioner ratio currently is 1.07 for every 10,000; it will increase to 2. There are 2.05  nurses per 1,000 citizens; it will increase to 3.14. The doctor-to-nurse ratio will rise from from 1:1 to 1:1.25. There was no word on where those personnel would come from over the next 5 years.

The guideline also acknowledged the nation's health system offers low-quality medical services and lacks adequate resources.

- here's the release