Public sector to scoop up 2,000 medics

Local | Riley Chan 13 Oct 2017

Some 2,000 doctors who will graduate in the next five years will be hired by the government, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said as a pilot scheme to promote primary health care will be launched in Kwai Tsing.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong meanwhile said salaries of frontline staff at elderly care homes will be increased by two master pay scale points, bringing their starting salary to HK$16,000 and median point to HK$18,800 a month.

Speaking a day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam's maiden policy address, Chan said the Hospital Authority will take all the doctor graduates from the two medical schools in the next five years to alleviate the manpower shortage.

More funding on a tri-yearly basis will be allocated to the authority according to the changes in population structure and demand. Doctors will be provided training in an attempt to lower the turnover rate.

The authority will set up an analyzing platform for big data, which could facilitate the medical policies and services, and promote bio-technology development, according to Chan. "If we can make good use of the data, it could also faciliate the innovation of medical services," she said.

As mentioned in the policy address, a new pilot district health center will be set up in Kwai Tsing under a new operating mode in two years.

The government will also set up a steering committee on primary healthcare development to review the existing planning of services, and provide services via district-based medical- social collaboration in the community.

"Depending on the results of the pilot scheme, we hope to set up similar centers in other districts in the future," Chan said.

In a medical-social collaboration, Law said the Labour and Welfare Bureau will launch a pilot scheme to train many of the 360,000 foreign domestic helpers who are caring for elderly people in the first and second quarters of next year.

A pilot scheme for elderly persons discharged from public hospitals will be served by outreaching teams to prevent re-admissions. It is expected to help 3,000 elderly residents in three years.

A HK$1 billion fund will be earmarked for centers to buy gerontology technology to ease workload, he said.

The labor chief acknowledged there is a shortage for carers of the elderly. Therefore their salaries will be increased by two master pay scale points from a starting salary of HK$13,000 to HK$16,000.

"Currently there is an 18 percent shortage in the industry, which means 10-man work is shared by eight people," Law said. "We don't have enough manpower. That's why we need to increase the salary so that we can recruit as many as possible."

He said labor importation is inevitable with the shortage. If improvements were made and the shortage rate dropped to single digit, then the plan to import labor can be postponed, Law said.

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