Loss of healthcare talent, Hong Kong recruits medical graduates from mainland China

Hong Kong recently launched a special registration program, allowing medical graduates from 50 non-local institutions to practice in Hong Kong. Fudan University has become the first institution in mainland China to have its Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), a six-year program recognized by Hong Kong.

The city’s medical registrar announced the list of 50 institutions in two batches, of which 27 were released in late April and 23 on June 8, including Fudan University. Most of the other universities are from English-speaking countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Additionally, Singapore and South Africa each have a recognized school under the new program.

“The announcement of Batch Recognized Medical Qualifications by the Special Registration Committee (SRC) allows qualified non-locally trained physicians to come and serve in public health institutions in Hong Kong through special registration as soon as possible, with a view to to alleviate the current shortage of doctors in the public healthcare system,” Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan Siu-chee said, according to an official statement released on June 8.

The amendment to the Medical Registration Ordinance 2021, which came into force at the end of October 2021, allows eligible doctors to eventually obtain full registration status in Hong Kong after meeting certain criteria.

It is expected that more mainland Chinese medical schools will be included in the SRC accreditation list in the future.

However, many in Hong Kong’s healthcare sector have questioned the huge difference between the Chinese and Hong Kong medical systems, as the gap in professionalism and skills, as well as the language barrier, will cause problems. .

Hong Kong’s medical system uses English as its working language, and most Hong Kong residents communicate in Cantonese, while the working language for mainland doctors is Mandarin.

Choi Kin, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, also expressed concerns about the language barrier.

Hong Kong doctors and nurses document cases and write prescriptions in English. If their mainland colleagues speak Mandarin and write Simplified Chinese characters, it could turn out to be a chaotic situation, he said.

Kin believes the Hong Kong Hospital Authority has a responsibility to train mainland doctors until they can communicate comfortably with their colleagues and patients. When some people insisted that the language barrier wasn’t a big deal, Kin said, “Only time will tell.”

China’s COVID relief team shaky performance

In fact, the mainland medical team that traveled to Hong Kong to support COVID treatment this year failed to effectively relieve the pressure from local medical staff due to the many cultural differences between China and Hong Kong. .

At the time, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority specifically changed the clinical management interface in a Chinese-dedicated treatment facility, including the drug list and workflow, to help medical staff in the continent that prefers information in Chinese. However, when a patient recovered and was discharged from hospital, medical staff in Hong Kong had to create an additional document in English and enter it into the hospital authority system, as revealed by the Dr Ling Siu Chi Tony, Chairman of Hong Kong Public Physicians. Association.

The Hospital Authority also advised medical staff in Hong Kong to “discuss” and “instruct” mainland staff who have come to provide support. Some doctors in Hong Kong’s public hospitals criticized the directive, saying that instead of relieving their pressure, the extra duties added to their burden and reduced their work efficiency.

Loss of healthcare talent

Amid the wave of emigration from Hong Kong, the city lost a large number of medical workers last year.

In response to a written question from the Legislative Council in April this year, the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau confirmed that in 2021-2022, more than 3,300 health care workers in total left their employment, including 436 doctors, 2,240 nurses and 662 health workers. workers.

The document points out that the Hong Kong Hospital Authority will implement new measures to retain medical staff in 2022, with expenditures estimated at around 180 million yuan (about $22.93 million). Measures include postponing retirement, increasing opportunities for promotion and providing specialist nursing allowances to qualified registered nurses.

For mainland medical graduates, the large wage gap between Hong Kong and China makes Hong Kong a dream place to work.

Ms Peng, a doctor working at a public hospital in Shanghai, told Radio Free Asia she would certainly be willing to work in Hong Kong if given such an opportunity. “In addition to higher salaries, I can become a permanent resident of Hong Kong after 7 years, and my chances of emigrating to other countries are also greater than those from China,” Peng said.

According to the 2021 Chinese Hospital Salary Survey Report, the average salary of a Chinese level 4 doctor in 2020 was around $2,452 per month, while official data from Hong Kong shows that salaries local doctors are between $8,976 and $15,515 per month.

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Jennifer Bateman is a China-focused journalist.

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