Work arrangements for pregnant nurses in public hospitals

04/05/2016

 

Following is a question by Professor the Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):

Qustion:

     In the middle of last month, a nurse who was 30 weeks into her pregnancy and worked in a public hospital collapsed during her night shift.  After resuscitation, she needed to remain in the hospital for treatment.  Some nurses in public hospitals have pointed out that the Hospital Authority has implemented the Continuous Night Shift Scheme (the Scheme) since 1994.  Under the Scheme, when the overall frequency of night shift duties undertaken by the nurses in a ward exceeds once in every seven days, the ward-in-charge will activate the Scheme to recruit nurses who are willing to undertake night shift duties continuously and provide them with an allowance, with a view to reducing as far as practicable the frequency of night shift duties of nurses to not more than once in every seven days.  Regarding the work arrangements for pregnant nurses in public hospitals, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows the following information for the past five years, broken down by public hospital and ward:

(1) the number of pregnant nurses each year and, among them, the respective numbers of nurses who, being one to 12 weeks, 13 to 24 weeks, 25 to 36 weeks and more than 36 weeks into pregnancy (the four stages of pregnancy), felt unwell while on duty and therefore took sick leave;

(2) whether the hospitals concerned had made arrangements for staff replacement when the nurses mentioned in (1) were on sick leave; if so, of a breakdown of the figures on replacement staff by each of the four stages of pregnancy; if not, the reasons for that; whether the hospitals concerned had activated the Scheme when those nurses were on sick leave; if so, of the number of nurses who joined the Scheme and the number of weeks for which the Scheme had been implemented; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) the respective average frequencies of night shift duties undertaken by the nurses at each stage of pregnancy mentioned in (1), how such figures compare with the average frequency of night shift duties undertaken by other nurses in the same ward during the same period; whether the hospitals concerned had activated the Scheme during the pregnancy of those nurses; if not, of the reasons for that; if so, the number of nurses who joined the Scheme and the number of weeks for which the Scheme had been implemented; the average frequency of night shift duties undertaken by pregnant nurses during the period when the Scheme was implemented, with a breakdown by each of the four stages of pregnancy; and

(4) whether the hospitals concerned had made arrangements for staff replacement when the nurses mentioned in (1) were on maternity leave; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the hospitals concerned had activated the Scheme when those nurses were on maternity leave; if so, of the number of nurses who joined the Scheme and the number of weeks for which the Scheme had been implemented; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     In respect of the various parts of the question raised by Professor the Hon Joseph Lee regarding the work arrangements for pregnant nurses in public hospitals, my consolidated reply is as follows:

     As the Hospital Authority (HA) does not require its staff to declare their health conditions (e.g. whether they are pregnant or what their weeks of pregnancy are) in sick leave applications, it has not maintained information about nurses taking sick leave during pregnancy (including their weeks of pregnancy while on sick leave) and the relevant data.  Nor has it maintained the frequency of night shift duties performed by these nurses and the information of the Continuous Night Shift Scheme so implemented.

     Annex 1 sets out the number of nurses applying for maternity leave in the past five years.

 

Cluster 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Hong Kong East 50 53 46 38 47
Hong Kong West 61 65 40 50 44
Kowloon Central 92 83 57 82 58
Kowloon East 79 79 63 59 62
Kowloon West 167 140 123 138 134
New Territories East 86 89 87 76 86
New Territories West 81 72 62 75 72
Total 616 581 478 518 503

     When there are nurses on maternity leave, HA will deploy manpower flexibly according to the actual circumstances and implement the Continuous Night Shift Scheme where necessary to ensure that appropriate manpower is provided at all times for the provision of necessary services to patients.

     The Continuous Night Shift Scheme provides additional allowance for nurses who are willing and required to undertake night shift duties for a long period of time, so as to reduce the frequency of night duties undertaken by other nurses in the ward. Annex 2 sets out the number of nurses participating in the Continuous Night Shift Scheme in all hospital clusters under HA in the past five years.

Cluster 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Hong Kong East 305 275 182 172 114
Hong Kong West 361 377 351 263 201
Kowloon Central 400 388 366 312 225
Kowloon East 250 214 165 147 132
Kowloon West 697 686 609 511 405
New Territories East 417 460 439 413 382
New Territories West 434 469 488 449 343
Total 2864 2869 2600 2267 1802

Note: The number of nurses participating in the Continuous Night Shift Scheme in 2015-16 is the provisional figure as at March 31, 2016. HA has not maintained statistical information about the number of weeks for which nurses participating in that scheme have worked.

 
Last Updated 2016-05-04