Nurses warn of industrial action

NURSES yesterday warned of industrial action if the Hospital Authority continued to ignore staff grievances.

A survey by nursing unions of more than 1,300 members revealed that most were unhappy with the authority's performance.

The three unions, which represent 7,000 nurses, conducted the survey to evaluate the work of the authority one year after taking over all 39 public hospitals.

The findings echoed those of a survey among hospital doctors which showed widespread dissatisfaction with the authority.

More than 1,000 of the 1,322 senior nurses from Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth and five formerly subvented hospitals polled responded to the survey.

Eighty-five per cent said they found the authority's overall performance unsatisfactory, while 84 per cent said they suffered from poor morale.

Only 38 per cent said they were prepared to work in public hospitals for three years or more, 45 per cent wanted early retirement, and the others undecided.

Unionists said that the study was significant as those interviewed were senior nurses of at least seven years' experience.

Vice-president of the Hongkong Nurses (Public Service) General Union, Mr Peter Wong Hyo, said: ''Their grievances are being suppressed and it is possible that members will resort to industrial action.'' He urged the authority to step up consultation mechanism, increase transparency and respond to staff opinion.

The unionists worried that if the situation continued, patients' care would be affected with the wastage of senior nurses and difficulties in enrolling new ones.

The Director of Operations of the authority, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, last night welcomed the staff's opinions, saying that they would meet union leaders today.