Government failing to provide funds public hospitals need
I refer to the article by Emily Tsang (“Critical condition”, March 27).
At a time when the government has cut the budget of the Hospital Authority, this article highlights important factors which contribute to a less than perfect provision of medical services – a shortage of nurses and doctors, who are the backbone of any medical service.
The root of the problem is not an overreliance on publicly- funded services, but a reluctance to provide the finance and other resources to meet the demand. The development of services has been hampered by the government’s reluctance to fund a first-class service in the public sector and the push by commercial interests to develop private health care.
The Hospital Authority has tried to deal with the staffing shortages, but it’s hamstrung by this inadequate government funding, a failure to control the medical insurance industry, and insufficient output from nursing colleges. Another problem has been the obstinacy of a self-serving Medical Council which greatly hinders the recruitment of overseas trained doctors on short-term contracts. These medics could fill many of the vacant posts in public hospitals for experienced doctors. Patients are left to suffer because of the shortages.
These problems causing staff shortages, together with undeserved praise for the private sector and a lack of sufficient praise for public hospitals, can lower morale in the Hospital Authority. So staff ask themselves why they should stay in underfunded and understaffed public hospitals. However, after experiencing the private sector, many patients have more confidence in public hospitals.
Private doctors are often unable to offer the comprehensive service needed which is why accident and emergency clinics are the first choice for those in need of medical attention or assessment.
We must think outside the box and not let self-serving practices inhibit the provision of much-needed health-care services.
Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai