New postgraduate courses being offered to medical students will not worsen a manpower shortage at public hospitals, the dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical faculty said yesterday.
Professor Gabriel Leung said he expected few graduates to take on the new postgraduate courses in public health, clinical scientific studies or pursue a second degree in law at HKU. The courses will run for between one and four years and offer graduates an alternative career path to becoming practising doctors.
"I expect there won't be more than 10 to 20 of them a year, as they have to consider investing more time," he said, adding that the annual intake of students for HKU's six-year medical course, one of only two in the city, increased from 160 to 210 last year.
Leung said a government steering committee on health-care manpower and professional development, of which he is a member, was collecting data on the shortfall.
Health chief Dr Ko Wing-man said in June that the shortfall in the number of doctors at public hospitals had increased from 250 to 290 in the last year. Many junior doctors have moved to the private sector in recent years, with a lack of opportunities for promotion cited as one of the reasons.
Leung said one way to cut waiting times would be for the more flexible private sector to offer more beds and divert patients from public hospitals.