Can Hospital Authority explain the long waits at specialist outpatient clinics for follow-up appointments?
There is a severe shortage of medical personnel in Hong Kong and this particularly affects waiting times for consultations in Hospital Authority facilities, where doctors and other medical personnel nevertheless generally provide a high standard of medical care.
Given this situation, patience is key when waiting in outpatient specialist clinics to be seen by a doctor. However, it is beyond me why patients have to wait in inordinately long queues after consulting the doctor, to make follow-up appointments at clinic reception desks which often appear to be grossly undermanned. To the best of my knowledge, there is no shortage of clerical staff in Hong Kong.
On a recent visit to a specialist outpatient clinic, there was a queue of about 50 persons being served by a single clerk who not only had to deal with making new appointments but also answering patients’ queries, which can involve time-consuming exchanges.
The net result was patients – often elderly, infirm, pregnant or with babies in arms – having to stand in line (no seating provided) for up to an hour. This is not a one-off experience but appears the norm at the busier specialist outpatient clinics. Surely totally unnecessary with proper clerical staffing and management?
Doug Miller, Tai Po