Long-term solutions sought over nursing

Linda Choy

LONG-TERM policies which would make nursing an attractive option for graduates were essential to control the shortage of nurses, Secretary for Health and Welfare Mrs Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien said yesterday.

''Most of our previous attempts were just short-term plans. It's time we looked at the problem from a long-term perspective and got some policies implemented,'' she said.

She said few graduates were willing to become nurses because of poor career prospects.

Speaking at the Legislative Council health panel, Mrs Wong said there was a need to look for new solutions as previous attempts to solve the problem had failed.

She said a working group from the Education and Manpower Branch, the Hospital Authority, the Health and Welfare Branch, and tertiary institutions would meet next month to discuss the problem.

The group would take a serious look at ways to recruit and retain nurses, and discuss the introduction of a nursing degree course in universities, she added.

The committee would come up with a report by the end of the year and education proposals would be submitted to the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee before it made its three-year financial plan next year, she said.

The Legislative Council's nursing representative, Mr Michael Ho Mun-ka, said it was an encouraging sign that the Government addressed the issue on a policy level.

He said the problem should be solved urgently to help hospitals which were forced to remain closed because of a shortage of nurses.