Authority spies on public hospital doctors, says union

Local | Jane Cheung 21 Oct 2019

Public hospital doctors are being spied on by the Hospital Authority in breach of the privacy ordinance, claims the Hospital Authority General Union.

At a press conference yesterday, the union said its members have been stressed by senior management placing doctors under secret surveillance by recording the number of patients they attend every day.

In one of the cases, nurses of a nursing home in the New Territories East Cluster were asked to record the working details of two doctors, including the timestamps of when they entered and left wards and the number of patients they treated every day.

The doctors concerned filed a complaint to the cluster chief but received a reply that "secret surveillance can collect data for human resources purposes."

The reply said such arrangements was not limited to the two doctors. They subsequently filed a complaint to the authority's complaints committee but their application was deemed invalid as the committee agreed with the arrangement.

Ng Koon-kwan, director of the union, cited the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and said surveillance of employees should be conducted in a transparent and open manner.

"Unless there is a sound rationale under special circumstances, surreptitious surveillance infringes on a person's privacy," he said.

"It was clearly a breach of the ordinance as it also damages trust between colleagues, creating conflicts targeting two doctors. It's actually bullying at work."

Another nurse also complained that a copy of her leave application was circulated among staff - which the Privacy Commissioner has classified as a breach of privacy.

"My boss copied my medical certificate and passed it among colleagues who have no rights to approve such a document. My personal information including my name, Hong Kong ID number and medical details were exposed," she said.

"The Privacy Commissioner approved my case and made suggestions to the hospital, but when I filed a complaint to the senior management, they told me it was groundless."

She criticized the hospitals' complaints mechanism for being seriously flawed and lacking credibility, as none of the members were medical workers or members of the union.

Lam Kuen, chairwoman of the union, said most complaint cases were not treated properly and few were found accountable for their complaints.

"Instead, the victims were bullied even harder at work. Some of them had to resign because of the overwhelming level of discrimination they suffer from," she said.

"We suggest the authority define work bullying and set up a code of conduct for staff members," she said.

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