At first we wanted to use a public hospital like 99% of locals do. After my wife found out she was pregnant the next step was to get down the hospital and do some basic blood tests. Also every Chinese woman has to start a file called a 档案 (dang’an). It’s basically a record of all your appointments and doctors notes.
This first visit was done in late February.
Step one: Try to get an appointment at The West China Hospital (Huaxi).
Before you get an appointment you have to obtain a Hospital card with your Chinese ID. Very simple and quick put your details into a interactive card machine and good to go
My wife called the appointment hotline, either that or queue at 4am to get a ticket. They informed her she could not get an appointment until 2 weeks later.
Solution: Outside the hospital you can get what is called a yellow cow ticket. Basically you pay somebody to queue outside with your Huaxi hospital card. They have some connection with the people selling appointment tickets. We payed around 200rmb to just get the appointment ticket for the next day. This does not include the price of the doctor which is another kettle of fish.
Step two: Go to appointment.
You choose your doctor when making the appointment. A low level doctor (junior) will cost a lot less, but they have more appointment times than the high level doctor. So we opted for a mid level doctor around 60rmb. When you arrive at the hospital its similar to the end of a football match when everybody is trying to get out of the ground. First step pay for the appointment. Find the cashier desk which is next to the ten ATM machines, pay cash get receipt. Next step find your doctor.
Enter the maze and crowds of confused mum’s to be.
After 20 minutes we found our doctor. When your appointment number is called you will enter the doctors room. (women only). Now from my experience in the UK this is usually a one on one experience, but not in China it’s more like a one on twenty experience. The room is full of expecting mums and people just randomly walk into the room by mistake or try to blag their late appointment with the doctor. No respect is shown to either patient or doctor.
Step three: Blood test
After trying to find the blood test area which is actually similar to a garage forecourt. You queue up with the other 10 thousand patients and wait for one of the magic doors to open. After your blood test is complete you have to go back to the doctor. Only to be informed that your test results will be ready tomorrow.
This took around a total of three hours. I just felt like the women were herded around like cattle.
Step four: Test results
Come back next day. The helpful doctor will inform you that everything is OK, go home and rest until your first scan.
At not one point was this experience a good one. There was no care in the so called caring system.
After speaking to lots of friends and family we decided to go private. One of my friends had her baby in this hospital and had to sleep in the hallway for two nights. No thanks.