Mass exodus of public sector doctors is a cause for concern

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2008, 12:00am

I am concerned about health care for the less privileged in Hong Kong and about a disturbing trend that is developing.

Over the past year I think people have become increasingly aware of a mass exodus from the public sector.

Many senior and more experienced doctors switch from the public to the private sector.

I am concerned about this trend as I was born in Hong Kong and will probably be here for the rest of my life.

I believe that it is likely that a very large percentage of Hong Kong people cannot afford private medical care.

I fear that the day could come when the public health-care sector is drained of experienced professionals, simply because every employee is looking at forced retirement at the age of 60.

At that age, doctors would be less likely to find a rewarding appointment in private practice.

I think many doctors who opt to leave secure Hospital Authority employment after gaining valuable experience, do so because they have a better chance of setting up successfully in the private sector if they start at a younger age and they can work into their late 60s, or even later.

There is no substitute for experience and it takes time to acquire it.

I would be concerned if patients in public hospitals could eventually only get treatment from inexperienced medics.

I would like the government to look at the big picture and consider the possibility of allowing senior doctors to contribute invaluable service to the public sector past the current arbitrary retirement age of 60?

That may be the incentive that is needed to keep more doctors working in the public sector and the average Hong Kong citizen will benefit if this happens.

Those who set up early in the private sector are definitely at an advantage and if the current trend continues I think this can only be bad news for patients seeking medical treatment in the public sector.

Claudia Leung, Mid-Levels