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Proposal targets foreign doctors

2014-01-20 08:52 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

A member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) submitted a proposal Saturday to strengthen supervision over foreign doctors practicing in the city.

Li Qingfeng, a Shanghai CPPCC member who also serves as the director of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department at Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital, suggested that local health authorities close a legal loophole that has allowed unqualified foreign doctors to practice in China, often in fields other than their own.

Li said that the local government should create a law that allows qualified foreign doctors to work for long periods in the city, but must also crack down on foreign doctors who practice outside their individual area of expertise.

"There are agencies that arrange for foreign doctors to work long-term jobs in China by taking advantage of a loophole in the law designed to allow foreigners to practice in the country for short periods," Li told the Global Times.

The law, which took effect in 1993, created a permit that gives foreign doctors the right to work in China for up to a year, though it can be renewed annually.

Li said that the law was created about 20 years ago so experienced foreign doctors could come to train domestic physicians. However, the permit is now being used primarily by under qualified foreign doctors who have come to China to make money.

There are few requirements to obtain the permit. Applicants don't have to take professional or language exams, and authorities don't look into their malpractice records, according to Li's proposal.

"Some cosmetic surgery institutions embellish their doctors' experience to attract patients. Foreign doctors usually charge much more than local hospitals, but might not be licensed to practice in a specific field," Li said.

Li said that there could be dozens of unqualified foreign doctors practicing cosmetic surgery in Shanghai. He saw seven patients last summer who were disfigured after undergoing surgery conducted by a foreign cosmetic surgeon.

He said that there has been a case where a foreign obstetrician-gynecologist practiced cosmetic surgery while in China.

Last year, authorities turned up 42 unqualified Korean physicians during a round of inspections of cosmetic surgery institutions in Beijing.

Most of the physicians were not qualified as doctors.

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