A full consensus could not be reached between doctors and the Hospital Authority last night over a HK$172 million package of emergency measures to tackle a record high staff turnover in public hospitals. The authority officially presented a package of measures at a meeting with more than 20 doctors and union representatives last night. Doctors had earlier threatened to take industrial action if the authority failed to solve the staff shortage problem. The city's public hospitals are experiencing their toughest manpower shortage, with some suffering a 10 to 20 per cent shortfall in some areas. Authority chief executive Dr Leung Pak-yin said after the meeting last night: 'We hope consensus can be reached shortly so that the new measures can be implemented as soon as possible to address the extra workload and career prospects of frontline doctors.' Representatives of two unions said that while agreement had been reached on some minor points, they rejected two key points in the package relating to staff promotion prospects and problems of overwork. Plans such as hiring more part-time doctors, minimising overnight on-call duties for pregnant doctors, paid leave for examination preparations and enhancing clerical staff were agreed. Dr Adrian Tse Yiu-cheong, president of the Frontline Doctors' Union, criticised a proposal to hand out HK$100 million a year in allowances for doctors working overnight. 'The authority just gives us each several thousand dollars but did not guarantee a cap for working hours,' he said. 'What if we need to work 90 to 100 hours per week in the future?' The package, which would cost at least HK$172 million in the first year, also includes a plan to allocate HK$23 million in the first year, rising to HK$100 million in the fifth year, to provide more than 170 associate consultant jobs for resident specialists with more than five years' experience. But Tse said the timescale was too long as many doctors had been working for more than 10 years without promotion. He said any further action would depend on the reaction of frontline staff. He added that if doctors decided to take industrial action, the union would give its full support. Dr Loletta So Yit-king, president of the Public Doctors' Association, said the package lacked long-term vision and failed to address the root cause of the staffing problems. Her union demanded the authority survey all frontline doctors about the package and set up a task force to review deep-rooted problems.