• Wed
  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Updated: 2:47am
NewsHong Kong
HEALTH

Outgoing Hospital Authority chief advocates importing overseas doctors

Anthony Wu says a chronic shortage of doctors in the public sector requires an influx of manpower from abroad

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 11:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 2:17pm

The outgoing chairman of the Hospital Authority Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said on Friday the government should push for the import of overseas doctors in order to resolve the city's shortage of medical manpower.

Speaking on a morning Metro Radio programme, Wu said he understood the option to recruit medical practitioners from overseas was unpopular with local doctors.

But he said he would continue to advocate in favour of the option, which he believed to be the only solution to a chronic lack of human resources.

“Of course there will be some groups going against the idea,” Wu said. “But this is solely for the service of the citizens.”

“Even as a normal citizen [after stepping down], I will continue to speak out on the matter.”

The city is short of more than 200 doctors in the public sector. The problem will not begin to ease until 2015, when the number of new medics graduating from college should rise from 250 a year to about 400.

Wu raised a similar suggestion in 2011, and it triggered a major crisis in his career at the Hospital Authority.

The Medical Council and frontline doctors demanded his resignation after he suggested qualified doctors from overseas should be permitted to practise in Hong Kong without having to sit the licensing examinations.

Wu is due to step down this month after leading the Hospital Authority for nine years.

Open University president John Leong Chi-yan will replace him from December.

 

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impala
Question 1: Are we short of doctors, or are we short of doctors in the public sector?

If it is the latter, then it is a matter of doing something about that big sucking sound of doctors choosing the private healthcare sector instead of the public one. Then we need a carrot (increase public doctor pay, improve working conditions and so on) and stick approach (regulate the private sector more stringently, impose caps, taxes and so on).

If it is the former, then could we start with asking - why? How come our universities collectively don't deliver a sufficient number of qualified medical staff? The medical profession is generally seen as a highly respected, desirable and well-paid job, so what is happening here please? Can't we train more doctors? Can we implement policy to train more doctors, for example by subsidising medical student's education in exchange for a commitment to working in the public healthcare sector for at least 8 years?

Question 2: If (BIG IF) we finally would arrive at the conclusion that importing doctors would be our only hope, then may I carefully ask where we are going to find Cantonese speaking doctors overseas?
And if this problem eases in 2015 (which is <2 year away), how exactly does Mr Wu envision this? Are we expecting overseas doctors to leave their jobs, career, family and everything else behind in return for a 2-year contract in Hong Kong, after which we will tell them to bugger off again?
superdx
As long as they aren't from the PRC

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