Presentation in Berlin First International Conference of Doctors' Trade Unions

This message was written on reading the sad news of two firefighters being unnecessary killed in the factory fire involving mini-storage areas. We should pay our last tribute to the deceased firefighters and their families. At the same time, I was saddened to see the resignation of our capable Hon Treasurer, Dr. She Siu Yam Dominic, for his personal reasons on 15th June 2016. An emergency Council Meeting was held on 20th June 2016 to accept Dr. She's resignation after attempts to retain Dr. She were in vain and to elect Dr. Luk Wai Leung Sunny to be our new Hon Treasurer according to Rule 7.8 of the Constitution and Rules of Hong Kong Doctors Union. At the same time, we have the honor of inviting Dr. Li Fan Lan Florence to succeed Dr. Luk's vacancy as Council member, also according to Rule 7.8 of our Constitution and Rules.

On the night of 8 June 2016, Dr. Luk Wai Leung and me got into the plane heading for Germany. We made a stop in Munich and looked around for a couple of days before we went to Berlin on 12th to 15th June 2016 for the captioned.

Our presentation in the meeting is produced below for your information:

Hong Kong Doctors Union (HKDU) is the only registered trade union in Hong Kong (HK) for both private and public doctors. About 1/3 of our members work in public service, and the rest working in the private sector. Our primary objective is to safeguard the welfare and rights of doctors with the ultimate aim of improving the health of the community.

In Hong Kong, the medical service is run in a dual system where public and private healthcare providers work and cooperate to give patients more choices. We can boast of our medical service to be one of the most successful systems in the world. HK¡¦s standard of healthcare is rated among the world¡¦s top few with health indices repeatedly ranking among the very top.

Within the public healthcare system, all the public hospitals are under the Hospital Authority (HA) that cares for 95% of in-hospital patients in Hong Kong.

Most of the private doctors are self employed. While those private doctors, when not self-employed, are usually employed by what we called Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). However they are not fairly treated as employees, as they are expected to obtain their own Business Registration and even have to pay rent, so that in effect they are self-employed technically.

Working conditions

The working hour of private doctors varies from 40 to 50 hours a week and public doctor varies from 60 to 65 hours a week. The latter do not get overtime (OT) pay and only gets compensated leave for working OT. According to recent news, working hours of people in Hong Kong rank number one in the world, with the average of working 50 hours per week.

Competition among the private clinics, the wealthy HA and even those HMOs run by businessmen is keen. Employee doctors do not have real freedom of choice in prescribing drugs and they need to do procedures allocated by their employers. The two large employers HA and HMOs use cheaper drugs for economizing reason. Public patients therefore have to wait long period for surgical procedures.

Influx of doctors in Hong Kong

Overseas medical graduates need to pass a universal Licentiate examination held by the Medical Council of HK for entering the general registry in HK. After passing the licentiate examination, they need to undergo an internship in hospital for one year before full registration

From 1997 till now each year some 12 to 13 overseas  doctors  became  fully  registered

through this system but the passing rate has increased to 40 plus each year in recent years. There fore the medical manpower in HK can be calculated by adding local medical graduates and overseas doctors newly registered each year amounting to roughly 500 each year. By now, we have a total of 12,650 doctors serving a population of 7.3 million in Hong Kong.

Migration of Hong Kong doctors

Migration of Hong Kong doctors Since prospect of promotion in HA may not satisfy all public doctors, a steady stream of them leave every year to enter private practice. The relative shortage of doctors created in HA has led to her demanding employees to work longer hours and to postpone retirement from age of 60 to 65. Furthermore HA wants to bring in overseas graduates without the licentiate examination presently in force. This proposal has led to widespread objection from local doctors

However, we have no data on the immigration of doctors out of Hong Kong.

Conclusion

HKDU just celebrated her 50th anniversary marking half a century of service to some half of the HK population. We are committed to uphold the standard of medical care for our clients through running and administering continuous education courses throughout the year and throughout eighteen regions.

We worked closely with pharmacists and patient welfare groups to negotiate with the government in formulating the most updated, cost effective and affordable treatment as HKDU identify the welfare of patients with that of doctors. When HA, the greatest employer of public doctors, threats to enforce unfair treatment to our colleagues, we joined in their demonstration and protest to seek justice from the authorities and won many times, better conditions of work and fairer payment of wages. We will continue to promote the family medicine system, working together with public doctors to ensure the best of primary to tertiary care are provided adequately and promptly.

It gives us great pleasure by winding up that, in fending for the welfare and rights of doctors, especially employee doctors, HKDU is firmly resolute and will happily work together with our international colleagues.¡¨

There are over 20 countries attending the meeting speaking on the same subjects. There are countries like that in Europe which have made laws to govern the working hours of both public and private doctors. There are countries like Cuba exporting a lot of doctors as cheap labour force for her surrounding countries like Brazil where the Brazilian doctors are yelling for help. All and all, we agree on principles of two subjects, namely, Working Time and Migration of Doctors, which are printed on page 7 to 8 of this Bulletin for your perusal.

The next meeting will be tentatively held in Bahamas in 2017.

Dr. Yeung Chiu Fat Henry