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August 2, 2013

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Recruitment on for first aid course

The recruiting process for the first batch of 70 students who will attend a three-year academic course in the city to be trained as emergency rescue doctors has started.

The course, the first of its kind in the country, is on a trial run and is part of the city government’s efforts to address the severe shortage of doctors for ambulances, the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission said yesterday.

The students will study at the Shanghai Institute of Health Sciences and their tuition and accommodation fees will be paid for by the city.

Students will be taught emergency rescue and treatment skills. They will have to sign a bond before admission that states that they will have to work as emergency physicians after their graduation.

Shanghai has been struggling with a shortage of emergency rescue doctors as the volume of first aid service keeps rising by more than 10 percent annually in the city, officials said.

Shanghai has 116 emergency branches with 616 ambulances at their disposal, meaning that 40,000 people share one ambulance, slightly better than the national average of 50,000. But there is still a huge gap for ambulance services, given that the city has 25.7 percent of its population with hukou (permanent residency) who are over 60 years old. They account for over 60 percent of the ambulance services, the commission said.

Last year, the ambulances in service attended to 595,000 emergencies in the city, a record high in history and topping other cities in China.

Unattractive job

However, many doctors quit their job because of low pay, a heavy workload and poor professional development each year, the commission said.

Very few local medical graduates are willing to take up first aid job, while those from other provinces, who sign up in Shanghai, quit in two or three years, local health officials said.

There are only about 610 first aid doctors in the city, a figure that should be double that. Last year, the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center recruited 31 new doctors but lost 55 others.

The hotline operators have drawn criticism as they struggle to deal with emergencies. Recently, an ambulance operator, who failed to respond to an emergency after a call from a passer-by following a car accident, was suspended.  The confusion arose over the exact location of the accident. The delay led to the death of a woman.

On June 21, an ambulance arrived two hours late to pick up two injured people as it was stuck with a patient for more than an hour because of the unavailability of beds.

On June 16, an 88-year-old man died after waiting for 40 minutes for an ambulance.


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