China is suffering a shortfall of five million nurses because many are leaving the profession in protest of hospitals underpaying them, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).”In most countries, the ratio of the number of nurses to the total population is about 0.5 percent, but the ratio in China is only 0.1 percent,” said MOH spokesman Mao Qun’an at a recent press conference.
“China had 1.43 million nurses by the end of 2006, which means, with a population of 1.3 billion, the country needs five million more nurses to catch up with the global standard,” said Mao.
“Although the country saw a large increase of 120,000 nurses in2005 and 2006, the amount can not meet the demand of the patients,” Mao said.
A survey of more than 400 hospitals in China conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that over 95 percent of the inpatients were cared for by their family members or professional carers.
Mao attributed the shortage to the fact that some hospitals have cut certain nurses’ income by classifying them as temporary workers, which means they can pay them reduced salaries to cut costs.
A large number of nurses have left hospitals because of low pay and bad working conditions, concluded Mao.
The news of the misconduct within the country’s hospitals is a setback for the MOH, who in 2005 laid down guidelines for the development of the nursing sector, pledging to increase the number by training more nurses in medical schools and to raise their pay.
Previously, China’s nurses mainly receive training in technical secondary schools, but now they can also be educated in the country’s colleges and universities, which entitles nurses to higher salaries.
The ministry has also, in the past two years, urged hospitals to raise the ratio of beds to nurses by listing it as an important factor for appraising their work. In China, there is an average of four nurses to ten hospital beds at present.
May 10 was International Nurses Day.
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