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Hospitals checked for possible bribes, kickbacks, misconduct

The former head of a prominent hospital in Yunnan province is suspected of taking large bribes, including 100 houses, 100 car lot properties and 35 million yuan ($5.6 million) in cash, from 2005 to last year, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said on Monday.

Wang Tianchao, 57, former president of the No 1 People’s Hospital in Yunnan, is also suspected of misusing power in the construction of the hospital, in procurement of medical facilities and in personnel management.

He was held for investigation of corruption charges in September by anti-graft authorities and was removed from his post in March.

A month before the investigation began, Wang was nominated as the head of the provincial food and drug administration.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission began a crackdown on corruption in the public health sector in February and announced that it will look into 41 hospitals over the next three years. Twelve hospitals will be inspected this year.

Under a plan rolled out by the commission, each of the hospitals is required to set up a whistleblower mailbox for clients to file complaints about the misconduct of medical staff members. The commission pledged to spend at least five days checking the performance of each hospital.

Liu Yong, director of the commission’s division overseeing the country’s hospitals, said the inspection team will solicit public opinion by carrying out surveys of patients in an effort to solve the problems in the government-funded healthcare sector.

“The investigations will cover a wide range of issues, including the pharmaceutical business relating to hospitals, kickbacks in purchasing medicines and misconduct in procurement,” Liu said, adding that the performance of doctors will be a key focus of the inspections, including whether they have accepted bribes or kickbacks, or prescribed unnecessary medicines.

A number of heads of public hospitals have found themselves in the anti-graft authorities’ crosshairs. Sixteen presidents of major state-owned hospitals in Anhui province were held on corruption charges last year. Most of their alleged misbehavior involved kickbacks in the approval of medicines at exorbitant prices, procurement of medical facilities and hospital construction, according to a recent report by Xinhua News Agency.

Apart from senior hospital executives, midlevel medical management personnel were also suspected of misuses of power.

The director of the osteology, or bone, department at a public hospital in Funan county in Anhui province, for example, was accused of taking bribes of nearly 1 million yuan from a medical equipment supplier.

Some hospital staff members allegedly collaborated and shared in the bribes. The head of the hospital took bribes of more than 10 million yuan, the report said.

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