Dealing with medical issues in a foreign language could be a real headache. In order to provide expats living in Beijing with more convenient access to doctors when needed, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning recently outlined a series of measures to improve foreign language services in local hospitals.
According to the health commission, Beijing-based major public medical institutions will provide translation for medical services including medical guidance, consultation services, the registration process, as well as all department names and signs.
In addition, the capital’s emergency numbers for hospitals (120 or 999) will have access to another line for translation to a foreign language. The 999 Emergency Center has cooperated with Beijing Language and Culture University on training foreign language telephone operators, and established a multilingual translation team to transfer calls.
The health commission plans to strengthen language training with universities and institutions. According to the Xinhua News report, the commission has so far launched Japanese, French and IELTS training programs, as well as online classes.
Statistics on Baidu reveals that there are 48 “Grade A Level-3 hospitals”, the top level according to the governmental grading system, which are assessed as having internationally top-class medical facilities and experts. Unfortunately most Chinese doctors don’t speak English if they are not western-trained.
There are also some foreign-oriented clinics catering to nervous foreigners, which will give you good care but at western prices.
Check the list for some Beijing-based hospitals with English-speaking doctors. It is possible to call ahead to ask for a general quote for the procedure before you visit.