Nurses and other medical professionals who joined public hospitals after April 2000 are again calling for a pay rise following the Hospital Authority's allocation of HK$355 million a year to increase junior doctors' salaries. The authority's director of cluster services, Allen Cheung Wai-lun, said yesterday the authority was still negotiating with nurses' unions and other staff for better pay for junior colleagues who joined after April 2000. The authority introduced a lower pay scale in April 2000 because of the economic downturn. 'We hope a concrete proposal can be achieved next week. We hope to improve the pay scale of all 7,000 colleagues who joined after 2000, including about 2,200 doctors and 3,500 nurses, as soon as possible and at the same time,' Dr Cheung said. The authority plans to increase doctors' salaries by 15 per cent to 38 per cent by December, at a cost of up to HK$355 million a year. Dr Cheung declined to disclose how much money would be needed to raise the pay of other staff. The lawmaker representing the health services sector, Joseph Lee Kok-long, said the authority should award nurses an annual pay rise based on their years of experience. He also urged the authority to improve career prospects for nurses to reduce defections to the private sector. Siu Kwai-fung, vice-president of the nurses' branch of the Chinese Civil Servants' Association, said nurses who had begun working two or three years ago could be earning less than those who started this year because the Hospital Authority had increased nurses' starting salaries this year. 'We understand why [the Hospital Authority] cut the salaries of nurses during the economic downturn. But now as it has a better budget and can pay the newcomers more, it would be unreasonable if it allows the more experienced nurses to be paid less or the same as fresh graduates,' Ms Siu said.