PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am


Shortage of nurses is getting worse

Last year, public hospitals lost 971 nurses, and the turnover rate reached 5.1 per cent, the highest in the past five years. The Hospital Authority recently launched a HK$200 million package to carry out a series of measures such as to recruit 1,600 nurses in 2011/12, create 50 posts for nurse consultants and 150 for advanced-practice nurses, and provide more specialist training opportunities and continuing education allowances for nurses.

Shortages may ease in the short term, but the measures will fail to tackle the long-standing nursing-manpower problem.

A further increase in the demand for nurses is expected with the continual expansion of private health care services and the opening of four new private hospitals in the coming few years.

The development of medical services, one of six industries with great potential, is advantageous to the long-term growth of our society. But such development must be underpinned by an adequate supply of manpower, in particular nurses, who are the largest group of health care providers in Hong Kong.

The nursing shortage can only be dealt with through a long-term and comprehensive nursing-manpower policy. The government should take a holistic approach, to carefully examine health service development, rapid population ageing, changes in disease patterns, community and family support, and nurses' roles and contribution in our society.

The actual and projected nursing-workforce demands in public and private hospitals and in other community settings must be prudently planned for. Mechanisms for salaries, continuing education and career development must be well established to retain nursing talent. Reasonable nurse-to-patient ratios must also be implemented to ensure patient safety and quality care provision.

Nursing education is the most crucial aspect of long-term planning. University nursing programmes have a strong theoretical and practical grounding aimed at equipping students with a greater breadth and depth of knowledge - not only of the existing models of practice, but also of new methods.

Students are educated in a stimulating environment to develop as autonomous professionals with leadership, creative, critical-thinking and clinical skills.

Many international extensive studies have revealed that the entry preparation for registered nurses at a degree level benefits patients. One study, in the United States, indicates that each 10per cent increase in the proportion of nurses holding a bachelor's degree is associated with a 5per cent decrease in patient mortality.

Enhancing university nursing education is an international and irreversible development in nursing. Hong Kong as a world-class city needs to keep abreast of the international pace.

Most importantly, enhancing university nursing education is an effective way to mitigate the nursing shortage, promote nursing standards and advance health care development in Hong Kong.

Diana Lee, chair professor of nursing, and director of the Nethersole School of Nursing, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Suu Kyi inspires us via video

Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader of Myanmar, talked to an audience at the University of Hong Kong by video link from Yangon.

She was recently released by the government in Myanmar after a total of 15 years of house arrest.

In the course of the video interview, she said she supported the Chinese fight for democracy and encouraged people in the audience to keep the faith.

She has continued to oppose the policies of her government which she sees to be wrong.

Her perseverance has given hope to those Chinese who are also fighting for democracy. I agree with her that we must keep the faith and not give up.

She has taught us to show patience when we face obstacles. Through that attitude she will eventually succeed.

Also, even when people are frustrated with a lack of progress, they must continue to pursue their aims in a legal manner.

Agnes Tam, Kowloon Bay Even bosses must comply with the law

In his plea ('One-way traffic system is to blame', June 19) that we should spare a thought for the poor chauffeurs of highly paid time-hungry executives who clutter up Central with their triple parking, Mark Cumming takes a slightly parochial perspective, as well as mixing up cause and effect.

Even assuming that the drivers could not afford 'holding areas' such as he recommends and which we already have (car parks), why should we have pity?

Rather, we should increase fines and especially enforcement. Public space is of value to all of us, as are uncluttered streets. In this case, selfishness contradicts the common good, and needs to be discouraged.

If the long detours he blames on our one-way system delay our captains too much, relative to short journeys in Central, they can do as all sensible professionals do, and use the excellent network of sky bridges thoughtfully provided by Hong Kong Land.

More importantly, the principles of equality before the law and respect for law both require that laws be reasonably enforced and offenders reasonably punished, to encourage reformed behaviour. Triple parking is surely to be discouraged strongly.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels

Limits on property may be needed

I believe that the government will ultimately put restrictions on property ownership, and may limit the number a non-resident can own in Hong Kong, or tax them on ownership.

To prevent the sort of housing crisis that crippled the US financial system in 2008, banks here are being made by the Monetary Authority to take precautions on loans, but the measures announced will not necessarily stop buying: they just limit middle class Hong Kong residents from speculating. Bigger investors can use other forms of finance.

The government needs to keep a lid on the market.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels

Increasing housing supply is key

Recently, a number of commentators have suggested solutions to spiralling housing costs such as resuming Home Ownership Scheme flats, building more public housing and restricting sales of small flats to mainlanders. But we need a much more aggressive expansion of housing supply. The land is there. All we need is government will.

George Warfield, Pok Fu Lam

Worse off than ESF parents

I am sure Hans Ladegaard ('Many ESF parents are struggling', June 16) also empathises with the many migrant families in Hong Kong who have no choice but to send their children to locally allocated schools that don't even cater to their linguistic nor cultural disposition.

It's sad that parents like him are struggling to continue sending their children to English Schools Foundation institutions because of steep tuition and other fees. But for many children, it's a choice between going to school or a meal. Please tell me again who should be getting a substantial government subsidy?

Ruel Trinidad, Hung Hom

Chek Lap Kok is at full capacity

Jake Van Der Kamp's argument against building a new runway in Hong Kong ('A fair price for convenience? Let's work it out', June 16) sways towards the financial aspects. But a Cathay Pacific pilot tells me that Chek Lap Kok has reached its working capacity: it is impossible to get aircraft in and out quicker with the existing two runways. He says that were China to prioritise its airspace for civil use, this would help to alleviating delays in clearance.

Andrew Maxwell, Sai Kung

Child marriages are harmful

It saddens me when I read about societies which allow children to get married. Child marriages create a lot of problems. The girl is separated from her family and friends. Education opportunities decrease. Some child brides face a life of bonded labour, commercial sexual exploitation and violence. There must be a change.

Nicole Li, Sheung Shui