护士缺口 (hùshì quēkǒu): Nurse shortage
Nurses participate in a skills competition at a traditional Chinese medicine hospital in Sanjiang Dong autonomous county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Wednesday, ahead of International Nurses Day on Sunday. GONG PUKANG/FOR CHINA DAILY
In a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, the National Health Commission said the shortage of nurses is a pressing challenge for the fast aging nation.
Statistics show the population aged 60 or above had reached 249 million by the end of last year, accounting for 17.9 percent of the total population, among whom 150 million suffer from chronic diseases, and 44 million are disabled or semi-disabled.
According to the commission, there are four issues that need to be addressed－who should care for the elderly, who should be cared for first, where the elderly should receive care, and who should pay for the care.
There are 4 million nurses, far from enough to meet the huge demand of the fast-growing elderly population. As such, the commission said it is drafting guidelines for the training of nurses for the elderly and the service specifications, which will be issued soon.
The commission has already issued standards for nursing centers and rehabilitation centers to encourage private investors and social organizations to collaborate with the government to establish nursing and rehabilitation centers in neighborhoods and residential communities through collectivization and chain operations.
The commission urges the government-funded community health facilities, and nursing and rehabilitation centers to provide for the nursing needs of the elderly, including sickbed services, while the community health service agencies are encouraged to sign contracts with families requiring visiting medical and nursing services.
The commission said it will issue a medical nursing demand evaluation standard to assess the needs of the disabled and partly-disabled elderly and classify them into different groups according to their needs.
At the same time, the commission is piloting a long-term nursing insurance system in some cities and conducting some surveys to prepare for rolling it out nationwide.
It is also piloting an internet-based nursing service model to improve the efficiency of the use of the limited nursing resources.