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June 29, 2010

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Soccer sick-leave scam investigated

SOME hospitals are investigating doctors after they discovered that sick-leave letters are being sold online so soccer fans don't have to worry about going to work during the World Cup tournament.

The Shanghai No.6 People's Hospital said it is investigating its doctors after it received an anonymous report yesterday that claimed its doctors were selling sick-leave letters to World Cup fans.

According to Shen Yan, a hospital spokesman, they have already tracked down an online vendor, Li Hui, who claimed on his company's Website that he could get sick-leave letters from his friends at both the Shanghai No.6 and No.8 people's hospitals.

Shen said Li's information was given to the hospital's security department so that it could check if its doctors were involved in the scam.

"We haven't found any doctor involved in this yet," Shen said.

Hu Jianping, spokesman of the Shanghai No.8 People's Hospital, denied the hospital had any relationship with such vendors. Hu said the hospital would report such vendors to the Shanghai Health Bureau, which could determine if these sellers were forging doctors' notes.

Shi Min, spokesman of Xinhua Hospital, said the practice of selling sick-leave letters has been around for several years but that it didn't really become popular until the World Cup started.

Shi added that the hospital would check to make sure its doctors are not selling sick-leave notes.

According to the hospital's regulations, doctors face strict punishment, including losing their jobs, if they partner with vendors to sell sick-leave notes.

Under the Labor Contract Law, those who use such letters run the risk of being fired, while sellers could be guilty of a criminal offense, said lawyer Li Xiaohua.

As a result, many sellers cannot afford the risk and have quit the business rather quickly.

Not a single sick-leave letter could be found yesterday on the country's largest online trading Website, Such letters couldn't be found on minor trading platforms, such as, either.

However, sick-leave letters can still be found on some small forums and Websites, accessible from a Google search.

However, there are some bold sellers and doctors who have increased prices. A one-day sick-leave letter now costs 40 yuan (US$5.88), doubling the price set last week.

One vendor claimed to be a doctor at the Shanghai No.3 People's Hospital and said he could prove it with his ID card. But he refused to give his name.

The hospital did not respond to calls from Shanghai Daily.


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