A video of an unidentified woman’s rant against hospital ticket scalpers has resulted in multiple arrests.
Beijing police detained 12 people on suspicion of scalping the hard-to-find tickets required to book an appointment with a doctor. In the video, the woman also accused the hospital of colluding with the scalpers.
Seven suspects were arrested at the Guang’anmen Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, where the woman failed to get an appointment. Another five suspects were arrested at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital and Xuanwu Hospital. Four of the suspects were later released.
The Guang’anmen hospital had previously denied the woman’s claims, saying that no scalpers existed at the hospital.
The woman alleges scalpers scooped up all of the available tickets and sold them to hospital patients. Originally priced at 300 yuan, the scalpers sold the booking tickets for 4,500 yuan ($684).
Eyewitness Wu Lin said the woman’s ordeal began when a scalper jumped the queue ahead of her after she stood in line all night. When she tried to take his picture on her phone, he threw it to the ground and threatened her: “Believe me, I will beat you.”
When she was later rejected for an appointment, and saw a person behind her successfully get an appointment, the woman lost her temper and ranted for several minutes.
Wu confirmed the woman’s claim that scalpers worked around the hospital: “Scalpers always come to the hospital … their faces are very familiar,” adding that “sometimes I’d go to the hospital at 4am, but scalpers were already waiting there and asking me whether I wanted an appointment number to see a specialist that day.”
Despite efforts to modernize hospitals with online registration, scalpers at Chinese hospitals remain a problem. In 2012, hospitals in Shenzhen admitted that scalping was getting out of control.
“We tried to crack down on scalpers with police, but police can do nothing (serious), so scalpers are released very soon after detainment and simply return to the hospitals,” said Lin Chuan, administration director for Shenzhen Maternity and Children Healthcare Hospital. “Once, scalpers even beat up several security guards for helping police catch them. The head of the security guards often receive threatening phone calls from scalpers.”
“I have worked at the hospital for eight years and have implemented at least 20 regulations to prevent scalpers, but we still can’t stop them,” Li said. “We also have banned our staff from allowing people to jump lines, and frequently changed the positions of security guards to prevent corruption, but it doesn’t work.”