Rising number of nurses in China balances doctor ratio

Updated: Sep 9, 2019 chinadaily.com.cn Print
A nurse (L) checks the recovery process of a patient with cataract at a hospital in Xin Barag Youqi of Hulun Buir city, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on April 11, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Since the end of 2018, the number of China's registered nursing staff has risen to more than 4 million compared with 30,000 in the early 1950s, an official with the National Health Commission said on Friday.

"Nurses now account for nearly 50 percent of all medical workers in China, and we are close to reversing the disproportionate nurse-to-doctor ratio," said Jiao Yahui, deputy chief of the commission's medical administration and supervision department.

On average, nursing staff around the globe make up about 55 percent of total healthcare workers. "In developed countries, nurses are responsible for the long-term care and follow-up observations of patients, so nurses always outnumber doctors," she said.

In China, despite the growing number of nurses in past decades, Jiao said the group is still insufficient to meet rising demands.

"In the past, nurse care mainly targeted patients at hospitals, and is associated with clinical treatment of specific illnesses. As China is now facing an increasingly aging population, we will gradually extend nursing services to communities and families, and cover a wider range of services, including health management, counseling and rehabilitation," Jiao said.

She added that China has seen a shortage of nursing services specifically catered to the elderly and the terminally ill.

"The incidence and mortality rates of cancer in China are both high," she said. "We plan to further develop the care system for the elderly by rolling out more standards and regulations to govern the sector."

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