I refer to the letter by Wong Wing-sze ('Hospital exodus threat to patients', May 30).
The Hospital Authority realises the tight manpower situation of our health-care workforce, resulting in the heavy workload and pressure. A series of proactive measures to strengthen the recruitment as well as retention of this workforce have been taken to address the workload issue while ensuring the provision of quality medical services.
Last year (2011-12), the authority recruited more than 320 doctors and 1,700 nurses to deal with the turnover and support new services. Among the nurses, 300 are extra manpower to be deployed to rectify deficits in pressure areas.
This year (2012-13), we plan to recruit around 300 doctors, 2,000 nurses and 500 allied health professionals to meet new service demand.
To retain medical manpower, we have enhanced promotion opportunities for frontline doctors by creating 110 additional associate consultant positions. In order to relieve the workload of our clinical staff, extra phlebotomists and clerical staff will be recruited to provide 24-hour support in all the authority's acute hospitals.
Thanks to measures we implemented, we noticed a drop in the turnover rate of doctors from 5.2 per cent to 4.8 per cent this year. However, the manpower shortage of doctors will continue in view of the reduced supply of local medical graduates since 2010. The situation should improve with the increased intake of medical students by the two local universities from 250 in 2012 to 320 in 2015 and 420 in 2018. Also, the authority will continue recruiting non-local doctors under limited registration as an interim measure for under-pressure departments.
We anticipate that the turnover rate of nurses will stabilise at about 5.3 per cent and, with an intake of about 2,000 nurses in the coming year, we expect the shortfall to be resolved within a few years. We will continue recruiting experienced part-time doctors and nurses to alleviate the workload of the existing employees. As at March 31, there were 231 part-time doctors and 794 part-time nurses working in public hospitals.
At the same time, we strive to enhance the competency and morale of all our health-care staff by improving training opportunities. Among the many initiatives, around 100 additional overseas training scholarships to frontline staff and training subsidies to around 550 nurses and allied health staff will be offered.
Dr Cheung Wai-lun, director (cluster services), Hospital Authority