Intended for healthcare professionals


Shortage of healthcare professionals in China

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 22 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4860
  1. Qing Wu, PhD student,
  2. Li Zhao, postgraduate student,
  3. Xu-Chun Ye, professor
  1. Nursing School, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, 200433, China
  1. Correspondence to: Y Xu-Chun, ye_xch8639{at}

Urgent action is needed to increase recruitment and improve staff retention to cope with the rising demand for healthcare

The global shortfall in healthcare workers will reach 12.9 million by 2035, according to the World Health Organization.1 In China, the shortage of healthcare professionals is even more acute. China Health Statistics Almanac and World Health Statistics estimate that China had only 0.43 paediatricians for every 1000 children in 2012, 0.14 general practitioners for every 1000 population in 2015, and 0.02 psychiatrists per 1000 population in 2014.2 3 4 Assuming no substantial increase, China is short of at least 200 000 paediatricians, 161 000 general practitioners, and 40 000 psychiatrists.3

China is also seriously short of nurses, with 2.05 nurses per 1000 population in 2013, well below the world average of 2.86.2 3 The turnover rate of nurses was roughly 10%-11% in 2015 and the turnover intention of nurses reached 57% …

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