Public hospital doctors, who regularly work 80 to 100 hours a week, are facing pay cuts of up to 44 per cent, their union said yesterday. Public Doctors' Association president Lai Kang-yiu met Hospital Authority executives last night to protest against a proposed overhaul of staffing structures and pay scales. The 3,500 doctors affected worked long hours in difficult circumstances at public hospitals but were facing huge pay cuts, Dr Lai said. 'These are larger than any pay cuts in any sector, and pay cuts of 10-20 per cent are considered big in the private sector.' Under the proposal, the monthly pay of a newly graduated doctor would reportedly be reduced by about 20 per cent from $44,395 (with additional allowances of $7,617) to $35,285 with allowances of $6,054. The maximum wage paid to resident doctors would reportedly drop by 44 per cent from $111,190 to $61,782 (including allowances). An Internet forum on the Public Doctors' Association Web site - situated at www.hkpda.org.hk - has been inundated with angry responses to the proposed pay cuts. Many called for Hospital Authority administrators to slash their own salaries. 'Patients need doctors, administrators are just parasites,' said one respondent using the logon 'Sick'. 'We must reassure the public we share the same concerns about the economy and we shall [agree] to a fair top-to-bottom pay reduction in the entire HA. But administrators first please, as they do not see patients,' said another, dubbed 'The Betrayed'. A number of doctors called for industrial action and suggested a ban on overtime under the new pay scales. 'Hong Kong people need to be reminded of the hours we put in, the stress we are under and the responsibility we shoulder,' said 'MO2'. Dr Lai said the pay cuts being foisted on public hospital doctors were greater than those suffered by civil servants in the Government's review of the bureaucracy. The salary cuts would result from a restructuring of the grading system of doctors in public hospitals. The Hospital Authority says the changes will make the system more consumer-friendly. The current three-tier structure of consultants, senior medical officers and medical officers at public hospitals would be replaced with a two-tier structure of residents and specialists. The authority, which is expected to submit its proposals soon to a human resources committee, argues the review will improve health care, simplify the medical staffing structure, enhance accountability of doctors and benefit patients.