Senior hospital staff reject plan to 'baby-sit' juniors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2000, 12:00am

A proposal that would require senior doctors to supervise younger colleagues even in minor surgery and treatment would strain manpower and patients would suffer, public doctors said yesterday.

The Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association has collected more than 1,500 signatures from doctors who oppose altering the medical staff structure to create the proposed supervision requirement. Association chairman Dr Lai Kang-yiu said senior doctors would be tied up with extra supervision work and would have less time to concentrate on patients. It also might result in longer waiting times.

'We support the direction of more involvement of specialists. But given the present limited resources, requiring experienced doctors to supervise all the treatment will compromise quality,' Dr Lai said. 'The crux of the problem is a lack of senior doctors. If we push ahead to have specialists in all cases, it will mean one-third of doctors will have to do all the work. Patients will suffer.' The Hospital Authority wants to introduce a two-tier structure for doctors in hospitals and require senior doctors to be in charge of all treatment. It has proposed reclassifying existing consultants and senior medical officers as specialists and re-labelling medical officers as residents.

Public hospitals employ 3,800 doctors, 1,200 of whom are ranked senior medical officers or consultants. The authority will decide whether to go ahead with its plans at the end of next month.