Ensure doctors hired abroad are paid enough and have reason to stay here

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 May, 2011, 12:00am


It seems that at long last we are seeing a practical and sensible initiative to help resolve the hospital resources saga. The government's plan to bring in foreign talent, if acted on promptly and properly, could bring relief within a reasonable time frame to the medical profession's problem of a lack of human resources.

We should first look at locally born and bred but foreign-trained doctors who are willing to come home, rather than all foreign doctors, so as to avoid opening the floodgate at this juncture, not to mention any possible issues down the line resulting from our not having considered all the implications.

However, the Hospital Authority must not look at this pool of resources as short-term band-aids in the government's plan to solve the immediate manpower problem. If we want to offer incentives to qualified doctors to return and build up a pool of reputable and dependable professionals, for the benefit of both the local population and 'medical tourism', these doctors must be treated with the respect they deserve.

I am not saying that they should be given special privileges, such as not having to sit the licensing exam. This has caused concern within the medical circle about quality control, and such a concession would only marginalise the new recruits. But by the same token, these doctors must be offered competitive compensation and longer-term career advancement, so as to ensure we can recruit, retain and motivate a core group of qualified professionals to stay in their respective fields here.

These returnees must be fully integrated and become an integral part of the local medical fraternity if this recruitment proposal is to achieve maximum long-term benefit. Only offering the returnees a short-term contract without due consideration for a comprehensive career development plan (that is, job security) may sabotage this recruitment exercise before it even starts. The failure by the government to carry out proper long-term manpower planning should not be repeated.

We have seen too many public issues being politicised, to the detriment of the people of Hong Kong. We have also seen too many examples of badly executed policy disasters resulting from knee-jerk reactions in the past. We do not want to implement the right solutions for the wrong problems - this should not be the regular modus operandi of a responsible government.

In this particular respect, we are looking to it for long-term vision and quality health care for the population.

P. Chan, Tai Hang