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  Initiatives to address workload of doctors and nurses¡@

In response to the concerns of frontline doctors and nurses on heavy workload and career development, both our Chairman Mr Anthony Wu and Chief Executive Dr Leung Pak-yin have tried their very best in communicating with frontline colleagues since February. A series of meetings were held with doctors and nurses at various hospitals in the seven clusters to collect first hand views from colleagues on this issue.

A basket of measures was presented to the Doctors Staff Group Consultative Committee at a meeting on 18 March joined by Council Members of the Hong Kong Public Doctors Association and the Frontline Doctors Union.

Some of the measures proposed included promotions for experienced doctors, offering allowance to recognise excessive overnight duties. Other measures included enhancing the arrangement on examination fees and examination leave, employing more part-time doctors, minimising long overnight on-site on-call duties for female doctors with late pregnancy and providing more 24-hour phlebotomist services to give imminent relief to pressure areas.

Some of the interim measures proposed included topping up Associate Consultant positions and providing more posts to promote Resident Specialists to relieve pressure; enhancement of training support for Residents and Medical Officers; and improving ward support. Other broad-spectrum measures to address staff concerns on posting and workload distribution were also proposed.

Both unions agreed to the directions of most of the proposed measures. Further meetings will be held to solicit views of the frontline staff on the proposed measures. While a Task Force on Medical Workforce Review will be established to assess doctors' workload, the HA is open-minded to continue discussion with the doctors with a view to reaching a consensus.

Moreover, to improve the manpower situation of the nurses, the dedicated task force that has been set up has mapped out immediate measures, as well as medium to long term measures to address the workload issues and retain nurses.

Among the measures, HA will increase the number of support workers and clerical staff to relieve nurses from non-nursing duties. Additional Advanced Practice Nurse posts will be created to retain skills. Nurse Consultant posts in various specialties will be increased, as well as recruitment for fresh nurses. Furthermore, modernized and enhanced medical equipment will be deployed to alleviate workload pressure.