Retirement age for docs raised amid brain drain

Local | Wallis Wang 24 Sep 2021

More than 1,600 retiring doctors and nurses will be allowed to work for five more years as their retirement age has been extended to 65.

The Hospital Authority yesterday implemented two new staff retention policies - extending the age of retirement from 60 to 65, and creating a new rank, associate nurse consultant, in the nursing grade structure.

Frontline clinical staff members will be the main target of the new retention policy.

Authority chairman Henry Fan Hung-ling yesterday said there will be an estimated 1,000 doctors, 5,000 nurses and 10,000 supporting staff who will reach the age of 60 in the coming 10 years.

"Facing the current retirement wave, which will last for some years, the Hospital Authority has to take proactive measures to curb the brain drain, in particular to retain experienced staff to cope with the increasing service demand in the future," Fan said.

The authority will communicate with retiring staff at the age of 55, allowing them to have sufficient time to plan for their retirement life, he said.

The authority estimates that around 1,650 retiring medical staff and 4,000 support staff will participate in the program in the next five years. Supernumerary posts in promotion ranks will be created if needed to avoid promotion blockage for serving staff.

As for the new rank of associate nurse consultants, the authority will start recruiting over 140 of them early next year.

Qualified nursing staff can be promoted progressively along the specialty nursing services pathway, the authority said.

Fan said the turnover rate of nurses is higher than doctors, justifying a need to implement retention policies.

He also said the government is hoping to adopt various measures to maintain the manpower at public hospitals, including facilitating foreign doctors to practice in Hong Kong.

But he said this measure may not ease the impact of the retirement wave in the short term as "water from afar cannot put out a nearby fire."

Asked if authority staff should take the oath to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the SAR, Fan said the Hospital Authority has not discussed the issue but hopes only management will be required to take the oath.

Fan refused to say whether the pro-democracy Hospital Authority Employees Alliance is under investigation by the national security police, but said the authority will cooperate in any investigation.

The government allocated HK$82.4 billion this year to the authority, up 46 percent from the HK$55.6 billion subvention in 2017.

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