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Doctor with a cure

By Sun Ye | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-11 09:28

Doctor with a cure

Dr Gilbert Shia works in his office at Medicgo international medical center in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Doctor with a cure

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A Hong Kong born doctor who spent much of his professional life in the United Kingdom thinks a new approach to medical care could be the answer to China's fraught hospital system. Sun Ye reports.

In a bright, spacious clinic in northeast Beijing, Dr Gilbert Shia takes time to demonstrate on mannequins the way to self-examine one's breasts - feel for lumps from the top down. He is so thorough when explaining illnesses over the phone, that when anxious mothers hang up, they're soothed, even without getting a prescription of pills.

"The clinic is my sample room that proves that the style of family doctors in the United Kingdom suits this country, too," says Shia, director of Medicgo, the international medical center that has its doctors as "goal-keepers", who assess a patient's condition, answer their doubts and questions, monitor their health and form a long-standing partnership for better health.

He says this could be the remedy to China's unnerving conflicts between doctors and patients that often result in disputes and violence.

The aim, says the soft-spoken 57-year-old born in Hong Kong, is to usher in the concept of family doctors in communities, in the style of the UK National Health Service.

Shia worked as a family doctor in Oxford, UK, for 15 years.

"It works for China too," Shia says. According to him, doctor-patient conflicts stem from a lack of trust and limited resources. But with a family doctor familiar with the patient's condition, who understands the patient's real worries and has their complete trust, there is no fuse for the fury.

Shia, who studied medicine at Cambridge, first came to Beijing in 1986 to study traditional Chinese medicine for one month. "It goes by an entirely different logic from Western medicine. And I was attracted to the new methods," he says.

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