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Key medical role of social workers

MEDICAL social workers are a relatively new phenomenon in China — and Shanghai got the ball rolling.

A medical social worker international symposium in the city over the weekend was told there are now more than 600 medical social workers at 44 local hospitals.

Medical social worker cultivation is part of the city’s 2030 health plan to improve health service quality and meet patients’ rising demands, health officials told the symposium.

In 2012, Shanghai became the first city in the nation to issue a regulation on medical social workers. It stipulates that there is one social worker for every 300 to 500 beds in comprehensive hospitals and one for 100 to 300 beds at children’s hospitals, mental health hospitals and cancer hospitals.

Currently, all district and city-level hospitals have social workers. “However, the figure is still far from enough under the patients’ rising needs. There is much bigger demand,” said Ni Yanhua from Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission.

“The nation’s health policy has turned from focusing on disease to focusing on health. Medical social workers play a professional role in the hospital to streamline health service and help patients,” said Dr Ji Qingying from Shanghai Children’s Medical Center

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