According to estimates of the Hà Nội Health Department, the city has nearly 3,000 private health clinics, receiving some one million patients per year. While many private clinics offer good services and help reduce the pressure on public hospitals, there were some private clinics that violate regulations. The newspaper Sức Khỏe Đời Sống (Health and Life) talks to Trần Nhị Hà, deputy director of the Hà Nội Health Department, on the matter.
|Trần Nhị Hà, deputy director of Hà Nội’s Health Department.- thoibao.today photo |
Non-public health clinics have offered alternatives in health services. Yet they also present challenges to health authorities. What are the most common violations by these clinics?
The establishment of non-public clinics in Hà Nội has given the public more options while choosing suitable health services, thus reducing the pressure on public health facilities. That’s the most important advantage we need to highlight. Regarding the violations, our examinations showed that the most common violations include running inaccurate advertisements, offering health services that have not been approved by relevant authorities, offering health services with no licence, charging customers more that the listed price and offering health services in the absence of professional health individuals who are in charge.
Many non-public clinics are located in small rented houses, with the facility’s structure not suitable to run a health clinic, although it still meets the requirements to operate. The awareness and the sense to follow legal regulations are also sometimes limited. There are still many people who buy and take medicines without the doctor’s advice. Human resources at private clinics are limited; most full time doctors and pharmacists at private clinics are retired. Further, there is a shortage of high quality staff, with many employees working part-time. Apart from that, to maximise profits, many clinics intentionally ignore legal regulations. Moreover, inspection work is not carried out regularly. The inspection force is also limited and measures to tackle violations are not strong enough.
In your experience, what measures should the Hà Nội Health Department implement to prevent wrongdoing and to make sure private clinics follow regulations?
To strengthen state management in private health facilities, close collaboration between health and other relevant authorities of the city is required. Health inspection forces should strengthen and undertake inspection without prior notice at clinics which have a foreign element involved and those near established public hospitals. It’s necessary to instruct private clinics to list the hotline phone number of the Hanoi Health Department, so that the public can file complaints.
Besides this, there is a shortage of health inspection staff, so inspections are not carried out regularly. Health authorities at lower levels need to timely detect health clinics operating without licences. Strict measures to address the situation must be taken once violations are discovered. In distant suburbs, such as Ba Vì and Sóc Sơn, there should be close monitoring of health professionals practicing traditional medicine without licence.
As you mentioned, the role of health authorities at lower levels is very important in timely detection of violations and to strictly handle any wrongdoing. So what is the role of the Hà Nội Health Department?
We do not dodge our responsibility in state management in Hà Nội. Actually in our monthly meetings with district authorities, leaders of health authorities made it clear and send official letters to district authorities requesting reinforcement of the responsibilities of local authorities. The Hà Nội Health Department always requires the public listing of certificates of health practitioners. For example, a list of medical staff working at a particular private clinic and the phone number of the hotline to reach the Hà Nội Health Department (043.998.5765) must be stated publicly, so that the public and health authorities can monitor and file complaints. The Hà Nội Health Authority has given the responsibility to medical units to monitor the operation of private clinics. Welfare of people is the most important. Therefore, people should fully practice their rights to monitor and participate in the management of private clinics along with the authorities through specific actions. Patients should ask private health clinics to present their operating licence and should inform relevant authorities when they detect violations at private clinics.