Date
8 January 2020
A file picture shows the Hospital Authority building in Kowloon. The Authority is facing calls for some action as frontline healthcare workers complain about staff shortage and other issues. Photo: HKEJ
A file picture shows the Hospital Authority building in Kowloon. The Authority is facing calls for some action as frontline healthcare workers complain about staff shortage and other issues. Photo: HKEJ

HA must address long-standing issues with new mindset

Recently, I and some representatives of the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff met up with Henry Fan Hung-ling, the new chairman of the Hospital Authority (HA).?

Among the topics we discussed was manpower planning for nurses in our public hospitals, precautionary measures for the winter influenza season, and the implications for the health sector from the ongoing social movement.

During the meeting, we urged the HA to adopt effective measures to address the three issues in order to ease the stress on the frontline healthcare staff.

As far as the human resource planning for nurses is concerned, we offered suggestions including setting the nurse-to-patient ratio in our public hospitals at 1:6 according to international standards, hiring more frontline nurses, raising the manpower percentage in hospital wards, re-introducing the “jumping” salary point, and enhancing the promotion opportunities for nursing staff to help retain talent and improve their morale.

The authorities agreed that nursing staff retention can facilitate stability in the healthcare service. In order to achieve that, the HA has established a Task Group on Sustainability to follow up on a series of staff-related measures.

The measures in the pipeline include improving the career prospects of the nursing profession, following up on the proposal of bringing back the “jumping” salary point, reviewing the existing employment model to reduce staff turnover, and providing specialty nurses with an additional incremental salary point as soon as possible.

I hope that under the leadership of its new chairman, the HA can resolve the issues of healthcare staff shortage and insufficient healthcare services that have been plaguing the healthcare sector for years, with new thinking.

Hong Kong experienced waves of social turmoil of unprecedented proportions in 2019. Even so, the people will still be able to stand together when it comes to our priorities?and?protecting our institutions.

As we have entered a new year, I hope citizens will stand united to allow the city to move on.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 2

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Legislative councilor and head of nursing and health studies in the Open University of Hong Kong
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