Ex-hospitals boss proposes open-door policy for doctors

Top News | Jane Cheung 30 Jan 2019

The pre-handover arrangements for recognizing Commonwealth doctors should be revived to ease the manpower shortage, says former Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk.

They should be allowed to practice in Hong Kong without additional exams and practice, Wu said.

Speaking on radio yesterday, he said the arrangement would not allow mainland doctors to come to Hong Kong as they do not have qualifications as specialists.

"Although the government has increased the quota for medical students, it takes more than 10 years to train a specialist and the manpower shortage will continue to be a problem for some time," he said.

"Resuming the arrangement to allow Commonwealth doctors to work in Hong Kong will be a measure to ease the shortage."

However, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said there had yet to be a consensus among doctors on this issue.

"I believe it cannot tackle the labor problem immediately," she said.

"If miscommunication occurs, front-line doctors may worry they would be affected after foreign doctors are allowed in," she said.

She said the topic needs further discussion and at the moment she hoped to handle the winter flu surge in the least disruptive way.

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan agreed with Wu's suggestion for Commonwealth doctors to be allowed to work in the SAR.

She said the government should limit foreign doctors to working only at public hospitals and guarantee their qualifications are compatible with local doctors.

Ann Chiang Lai-wan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the government should learn from Singapore's system of importing foreign doctors.

It allows medical graduates from prestigious universities around the world to work in Singapore without having to go through an exam as long as they have obtained their specialist qualifications and gained certain years of experience.

On Lam's announcement on the HK$500 million fund for the Hospital Authority, medical-sector lawmaker Pierre Chan Pui-yin welcomed the move but called on the authority to the use the money wisely.

"Such resources should be spent on the most overloaded departments - the medical, pediatric and accident and emergency wards - and to allocate extra manpower and beds during the seasonal influenza surge," he said.

Meanwhile, a 41-year-old mother has been arrested after she assaulted a Kwong Wah Hospital nurse for the long queuing time at the A&E department. She visited the hospital with her 10-year-old son at 3am yesterday as the son was suffering from pain in the ear.

Her son was classified as an non-urgent case and was sent to the lobby to wait for his turn to see the doctor.

But the mother was impatient and allegedly stormed into the doctor's room, demanding instant treatment for her son.

She was stopped by a 45-year-old nurse, surnamed Law, and the two quarreled, during which the mother allegedly pushed Law onto the floor.

She was released on bail but denied she had attacked the nurse.

She said that Law had a bad attitude and had said the son did not look like he was dying.

She said she was provoked and went toward Law to check her name tag but did not push her.

An authority spokesman said the organization is highly concerned with the case and condemned violence in any form.

During this winter influenza surge, patients have to endure a longer waiting time at A&E departments, and he called on people to be understanding.

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