Hospital Authority obliged to keep us employed, say students

More medical graduates will be unable to find jobs if the Hospital Authority goes ahead with a radical proposal to revamp new doctors' salaries, benefits and professional ranks, it was claimed yesterday.

The Chinese University's Medical Society, representing 812 students, demanded the authority guarantee employment and specialist training.

'The authority monopolises the medical market and all specialist training, so they have an obligation to keep us employed,' said the society's president, Fong Man-chung.

But he said new doctors could accept some wage cuts if necessary.

Of the 260 graduates last year from the two medical schools at the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University, 30 are unemployed, according to the society. About 300 will graduate this year.

The authority's human resources managers will meet today to discuss the proposals.

These include cutting entry salary from $44,395 to $35,285 a month - a drop of five points on the government pay scale - and changing the three tiers of medical officers, senior officers and consultants to a system made up of only residents and specialists.

The proportion of junior doctors, however, would drop from 62.7 per cent to 30 per cent.

The authority said the proposal could guarantee specialist training for resident doctors, but it declined to comment directly on hiring new graduates.

It now hires new doctors on contracts rather than permanently as in the past.

The University of Hong Kong's medical students' union could not be reached for comment last night.

The association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff voiced support for the doctors.

They claimed the proposed new structure, which would have more senior doctors, would require more funding and this might come from other ranks within the authority.

'We are concerned about how the new structure will affect our services and whether the allocation of resources is fair,' said Michael Mak Kwok-fung, the association's chairman.

He said they would join any industrial action led by the doctors if they could do so without hurting patients.