PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am


Why nurses leave public hospitals

Recently, with the aim of easing the shortage of nurses, the Hospital Authority announced that public hospitals had a hiring target of 2,000 nurses this year.

While welcoming any measure that could boost nursing numbers, I must cast doubt on the effectiveness of the authority's claim to relieve this chronic problem.

In the past few years, the turnover rate of Hospital Authority nurses has been high. The non-stop exodus of experienced nurses, over 5 per cent each year for the past few years, remains the root cause of the shortage. Therefore, bringing in new blood will not tackle this problem.

Instead, effective measures should be adopted to retain talented staff currently employed.

Interestingly, the existing human resources policy on nursing in the authority is the major cause of the high turnover rate.

There is no increment for new recruits after the first year of appointment; a fixed cash allowance instead of an allowance as a percentage of the nurse's salary; obliteration of 'omitted points' (an incremental jump of two pay points) from the pay scale; and limited opportunity in specialty training and promotion.

These are just a few of the poor policy measures that deter experienced nurses from staying in the authority.

In addition, the continuously unreasonable high patient load, one nurse to 12 to 14 patients, further frustrates nurses' efforts to optimise patient care.

To resolve this chronic nursing shortage in public hospitals, I would suggest a two-pronged approach.

Immediate action must be taken to revise the human resources policy on nursing and to establish an explicit standard on nurse-patient ratio.

Also, the authority should employ a sufficient number of new blood and experienced nurses to bring the number of nurses to the established standard.

The measures I propose do have resources implications. Therefore, the chief executive-elect, with a view to sustaining the quality of nursing services of public hospitals, should consider channelling appropriate resources so these proposals can be implemented.

Dr Joseph Lee Kok-long, legislative councillor, health services constituency

E-book can keep out publishers

The controversial course in moral and national education to be introduced in primary and secondary schools has come in for criticism. Some people fear there is the potential for indoctrination of students.

Also, it is felt that less experienced teachers will not be able to compile the necessary learning materials.

The Education Bureau has promised to upload some suggested classroom material which teachers can use for reference online.

This should provide the foundations for an e-book on moral and national education.

Developing an e-textbook in this way can stop publishers claiming any copyright regarding the material.

It will mean they cannot sell expensive books on this new subject in the future.

As all schools will receive a one-off subsidy of HK$500,000, they should all be asked to contribute classroom material online.

Once this material has been cleared by education professionals and the Education Bureau, it can be used by all schools.

Chan Wong, Mong Kok

Some voters love bad behaviour

I refer to Albert Cheng King-hon's article ('Tactics to block passage of flawed laws are legitimate', May 9).

With regard to the filibuster tactic, there is the adage, 'Just because you can do it does not mean you should do it'.

I suppose that still leaves those involved with filibustering tactics an opportunity to exercise discretion, although clearly they have chosen 'to do it'.

There are leading democracies which have found it necessary to make it possible to stop filibustering ('Move to halt filibuster poised to fail', May 4).

Mr Cheng says, 'If voters find this tactic unacceptable, they can punish the lawmakers involved by not voting for them in the next elections.'

The trouble is that such tactics as a filibuster and banana-throwing are the very selling points of groups like the League of Social Democrats [and People's Power], pandering to a faction of the populace which likes playing hell with the government and which not only elected them, but re-elected them.

To keep up their 'marketability', they must continuously escalate their unreasonable tactics. At some point, such tactics become unacceptable, but they will still be elected for that very reason.

In promoting democracy, one should take note of the fact that the people do not always know best.

Hence the Democratic Party's proposal to subject Leung Chun-ying's cabinet reshuffle to a round of public consultation does not make sense.

How would the lay public know better?

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Firms can do more than aid agencies

I refer to the letter by Kevin Chiu, of World Vision Hong Kong ('Lives at stake as Africa waits for aid', May 5).

He referred to problems in West Africa and the Sahel region of North Africa. I am not sure if delivering charity will help.

For one thing, many aid organisations have high overheads, such as staff salaries, offices and travel expenses.

The African Cup of Nations 2012 was held successfully in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January. This tournament is a powerful boost for Africa's economic development.

I noticed that the adverts in the stadiums were all from huge multinational corporations such as Orange, Samsung, Pepsi, Vanco Energy and a major bank.

It is the multinationals with their pragmatic approach to investment and delivery of social responsibility that can improve the lives of Africans. They, more than aid agencies, can help to alleviate poverty.

Pang Chi-ming, Fanling

Parody plays important role in city

The government's proposal to amend the present copyright legislation would appear to be good news for owners of copyright, but it has not been widely welcomed.

Critics have described it as the 'Article 23 of the cyberworld', saying it will impose limitations on the creative process. Many of them have signed a petition opposing it.

Online artists have been the most vociferous in their opposition, asking for exemptions for parodies and 'any creation based on an original, copyrighted work' ('Rethink copyright bill, say artists', May 5).

Parody is a popular art form in Hong Kong. Artists poke fun at celebrities and politicians. It is entertaining, and satirical images often raise public concern about important social issues.

Parody does not infringe copyright owners' interests. It is not done to make a profit. It is just a way to express opinions. Some see the proposed law as an attempt to curb anti-government comments. If this is true, it is unforgivable.

Hong Kong has long been known as a free city and the government must take care when drafting laws that deal with human rights issues. This kind of legislation should not be rushed. It requires adequate public consultation.

Phyllis Ngai, Tsuen Wan

Helpers need Sunday health clinic

I am a Filipina domestic helper who has worked in Hong Kong for two years.

My only day off is a Sunday and I am only allowed out of the house on that day.

I just don't understand why all of the government's social hygiene clinics are open only from Monday to Saturday.

Unwanted pregnancy, HIV and cervical cancer are serious issues which not only affect domestic helpers but the entire community.

I received inadequate education by the government in the Philippines about how to protect my sexual health.

We should be given advice and leaflets on arrival in Hong Kong about where we can find public clinics that are open on Sundays.

After searching the internet for hours and making several phone calls, I was unable to find any government clinics specialising in women's sexual health issues at a cost which people on my wage can afford. Access to health care should be a basic human right - even to Filipina maids.

Could the director of health explain why there are no social hygiene clinics in Hong Kong which are open on Sundays?

Irene Cabasaan, Pok Fu Lam