Non-local doctors to provide overworked hospitals relief

Top News | Amy Nip 10 Jan 2019

Five non-local doctors have been permitted to continue working in Hong Kong to relieve frontline workload at hospitals.

This comes as the waiting time at accident and emergency departments at public hospitals reached eight hours yesterday amid the peak flu season, and internal medicine wards continued to run beyond capacity.

The Medical Council of Hong Kong approved the five renewal applications of non-locally trained doctors for practice with limited registration at public hospitals, according to the Hospital Authority.

The five have been serving in the anesthesia, emergency medicine, family medicine and internal medicine departments.

A spokesman said there are currently 10 non-locally trained doctors working in public hospitals under limited registration in specialties including cardiothoracic surgery.

He said the authority expresses its appreciation to "all doctors for their commitment and contributions to serving the public under the manpower constraint."

The spokesman added: "The authority will continue to exhaust every effort to attract fully registered local doctors and retain public doctors."

Yesterday morning, the queuing time at Queen Elizabeth and United Christian hospitals' accident and emergency departments exceeded eight hours.

Barring North District Hospital, all public hospitals with inpatient beds were running beyond capacity on Tuesday.

The highest occupancy rates of inpatient beds were at Tseung Kwan O Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital, where it reached 130 and 127 percent respectively.

The winter flu season kicked in early on December 30.

There were 52 serious cases involving adults, including 18 deaths within 10 days, and five serious child cases, none of which have resulted in deaths, according to the Department of Health.

There have been 57 institutional outbreaks affecting 301 people, including 52 outbreaks in schools for young children.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said there has been inadequate support for public hospitals during the peak flu period.

He said he will write to the government demanding more funding to support frontline medical staff and to expedite the construction of hospitals.

The government set aside HK$500 million to handle the peak flu period, but the amount has already been used up, Kwok said.

He suggested "fever clinics" be established so that flu patients can choose to go to clinics within their communities instead of heading to congested accident and emergency departments.

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