RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.
Hello and welcome to The Pulse. As Tim Wong, a doctor who works in the Accident and Emergency services, told us last week, staff in the public hospital sector have been working at breaking point for a long time. He argued that the public healthcare system is facing a systematic crisis. Front-line medical staff often point to the speed at which Hong Kong’s population is growing without a corresponding increase in public health manpower. They want to see a review of population policy, particularly the one-way permit scheme that allows 150 people from the mainland to settle in Hong Kong every day. With us are Sze Lai-shan, Community Organiser for the Society for Community Organization and former Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong.
The current ratio of doctors to patients in Hong Kong’s public health service is 1.9 to 1,000. The ratio of nurses to patients is 7.1 to 1,000. The average length of time a doctor can spend with each patient is down to just a few minutes. Public hospitals are overcrowded, and medical staff are overworked. Last year and this year, the government allocated additional “one-off” HK$500 million funds to tackle the winter flu surge. But front-line staff say it’s not necessarily helping on the ground, and the problems they face extend well beyond the flu season.