Public doctors are complaining about long working hours. But exactly how long is long? A hundred hours a week? That is what Dr Peter Pang Ka-hung, a neurosurgeon at Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei, once clocked up. Pang, who has relied on sleeping pills in the past several years to get enough rest, does about 10 to 15 on-call duties a month after his normal work hours, which are from 9am to 5pm. When he is on call, he has to answer inquiries from junior doctors, check patients' brain images from his home computer and sometimes rush back to hospital to do an emergency operation. 'Usually I get two to three calls from junior doctors every night while I am on call,' he said. 'I need to wake up and check the patients' scanned images on a computer and give instructions. It takes 30 minutes to an hour per case.' Five years after graduating from medical school in 1992, Pang was promoted to senior medical officer and has been in the same post for 13 years. While senior doctors in most other specialties do not need to take frequent on-call duties, neurosurgeons are different because of the specialty's high-risk nature. There are only three senior medical officers in his department. 'When one of our colleagues is on leave, I need to share all the night on-call duties with another doctor, meaning each of us has to do 15 on-call duties a month,' Pang said. After a busy night, he has to wake up early and get to the hospital for scheduled operations. This work pattern has affected his sleep. For several years, he has taken sleeping pills when he is not on call. 'My sleep cycle is seriously disturbed. I don't want to be sleepy the next day and put my patients at risk. 'I don't know when I may have to give up my job because of my health concerns. I worry I could become addicted to the pills. My colleagues and superior know my situation, but they cannot help much,' Pang said. He said the specialty had difficulty attracting new staff because of its high-risk nature and the busy work schedule. 'It takes many years for a trainee to be independent in doing brain surgery, and some trainees leave after spending six moths here, because they find the job too demanding.' Pang said he once thought about switching to the private sector. 'After some consideration, I decided I still loved to serve the public, especially those who are poor. It is my aspiration as a doctor,' he said. 'If I switch to the private sector, I may not do some very high-risk operations, and I will waste the skills I have learnt all these years.' Pang urged the Hospital Authority to improve doctors' work conditions so more would stay at public hospitals.