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Medical workers to receive better pay and benefits

A village doctor measures the blood pressure of a villager at Qianyang village, Donggang city of Northeast China's Liaoning province, April 6, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China will improve the working conditions, wages and benefits of medical workers, including disease control personnel, as part of a "long-term mechanism" aimed at boosting their care and protection, according to a guideline released by the National Health Commission last month.

The guideline set out a series of measures targeting healthcare workers involved in coping with public health emergencies, such as prioritizing the distribution of protective equipment to those on the front line, arranging paid leave, issuing subsidies and additional pay, streamlining the evaluation of work-related injuries, and helping them address personal difficulties in child rearing and elderly care.

Establishing a long-term mechanism for protecting and caring for medical workers will enable them to continue fighting against viral diseases in good health, and promote an atmosphere across society of respecting and recognizing the importance of healthcare workers.

The National Health Commission

"Healthcare institutions should set up positions, allocate personnel and manage shifts in an adequate manner that can guarantee a reasonable amount of rest for workers and avoid exhaustion," said the document, which was jointly released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Finance.

"Arrangement of additional paid leave for those participating in curbing acute health threats should be based on the length of their involvement and the severity of risks they face," it said.

In a notice explaining the guideline, the commission said that during the COVID-19 epidemic, medical workers committed themselves to battling the virus with a selfless and courageous spirit.

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"Establishing a long-term mechanism for protecting and caring for medical workers will enable them to continue fighting against viral diseases in good health, and promote an atmosphere across society of respecting and recognizing the importance of healthcare workers," the notice said.

The guideline also required the bolstering of security systems and measures at medical institutions, and taking proactive action to resolve disputes between medical workers and patients. "Training to improve medical workers' awareness of their personal safety will also be offered," it added.

A number of measures listed in the guideline had already been implemented during the epidemic to give more support to front-line doctors and nurses working under enormous pressure to diagnose and treat patients.

As the domestic spread of COVID-19 has been largely brought under control, China is now working to improve the long-term treatment of and respect for healthcare workers.

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Liu Shiding, former deputy dean of Peking University's sociology department, told the Medical Doctor Weekly newspaper that strategic decision-making at the national level is needed to increase the sense of gain and self-worth among doctors, as well as to improve the social status of the profession.