BEIJING (Reuters) - A man with a history of mental illness stabbed and killed seven people, six of them nurses, at a sanatorium dormitory in northern China on Thursday in the latest of a string of attacks on medical workers, state media reported.
An administrator was among those killed and another nurse was seriously injured in the attack in the early hours of the morning, the official Xinhua news agency said.
A spate of attacks on doctors and nurses in the past two years has prompted the health ministry to provide better security at hospitals.
The sanatorium is in Beidaihe, a seaside resort close to Beijing favored by senior members of the ruling Communist Party. Beidaihe has many such institutions, which are normally used as cheap hotels or spas.
Xinhua said the former hospital was under the administration of the Beijing military region, meaning it is likely a military-run facility.
A suspect, who also worked at the sanatorium, has been detained, the Xinhua report said.
The Beijing News identified the suspect as Li Xiaolong, 27, saying he had confessed to having a history of mental illness and had received treatment in Beijing and the nearby city of Tangshan in 2006.
“It is initially understood that the suspect did not have any obvious problems with the deceased,” the newspaper said on its website.
While the Chinese government has ramped up health spending, hospitals are frequently overwhelmed with patients. Doctors are also badly paid, leading to corruption and a suspicion that staff are more interested in making money by prescribing unnecessary drugs and treatment than tending the sick.
Many other Chinese are unable to afford health care despite government efforts to provide a basic safety net, which has also prompted attacks in the past.
Ministry data shows that violent attacks directed at doctors and other health care workers in the form of beatings, threats, kidnappings, verbal abuse and murder reached 17,243 cases in 2010, the latest year for which such figures are available.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait