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Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong’s public hospital doctors need better work conditions more than overseas help

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2018, 9:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2018, 9:30am

I refer to Marcus Lee’s letter (“Ageing Hong Kong needs to open its doors to overseas doctors, as shortage is hurting patients”, May 31).

The problem of mismatch of human resources seems to have been overlooked by Mr Lee. It is deniable that we lack doctors in public hospitals, but does that mean that we should introduce overseas doctors into our local medical system?

The root of the shortage problem is that working conditions in public hospitals are highly undesirable, causing a lot of public doctors to move towards the private sector. Not only is their pay much lower than in the private sector, they also have to deal with clerical work which increases their workload.

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What we should focus on is improving the working conditions and wages of public sector doctors, so as to attract private doctors back into public hospitals, or at least to work part-time there.

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As for overseas doctors, if they are as professional as their Hong Kong counterparts, I believe that our hospitals will definitely welcome them. However, this may not always be the case.

In fact, if you look at the medical qualification exams, you will see how difficult it is to become a doctor in Hong Kong. The introduction of overseas doctors very often implies that we have to lower the medical standards because, if the pass rate of exams is low, no doctor will be willing to work here. Are we willing – and is it ethical – to lower our expectations of the doctors in Hong Kong?

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Communication is another serious issue. If we look at Australia and Singapore, their imported doctors very often speak the first language of the populations. Hong Kong patients may not feel comfortable – or be able to communicate – with medical staff in Mandarin or English. Miscommunication may easily cause medical blunders.

Anson C.Y. Chan, North Point