Following is a question by
Professor Hon Joseph Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Food and
Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):
Regarding the nursing manpower in public hospitals, will the
Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the
following information in respect of each of the specialties in various
public hospitals in each of the past five years: the number of nurses,
the inpatient bed occupancy rate, as well as the respective
nurse-to-bed ratios for the three shifts of morning, afternoon and
night (set out by name of hospital and by specialty in a table);
(2) as the inpatient bed
occupancy rate in various acute hospitals generally exceeded 100 per
cent during the recent influenza peak season, of the measures taken by
the Hospital Authority (HA) in respect of manpower, resources
deployment and operation to relieve the shortage of nursing manpower,
as well as the measures in place to deal with the shortage of nursing
manpower in the long run; and
(3) given that the
Government has mentioned in this year's Policy Address that some 5 000
additional public hospital beds will be provided under its hospital
development plan for the coming decade, of the number of beds for
specialist services among these additional beds; the projected number
of additional nurses to be recruited, occupancy rate of these
additional beds, and respective nurse-to-bed ratios for the three
shifts of morning, afternoon and night (set out such information by
name of hospital); the details of HA's overall nursing manpower plan
in the coming decade, and the projected annual numbers of nurses to be
recruited (broken down by rank of nurses)?
reply to Professor Hon Joseph Lee's question on the nursing manpower
in public hospitals is as follows:
(1) The Hospital Authority
(HA) provides different types and levels of services for patients
according to their individual conditions and needs.
To meet the operational needs, HA deploys nursing manpower
flexibly, and does not set rigid nurse-to-patient ratios.
Neither has HA prescribed any nurse-to-bed ratios for the
morning, afternoon and night shifts.
Nevertheless, HA has developed a workload assessment model to
assess the nursing workload and staffing requirements based on factors
such as patient number, patient dependency and nursing activities.
HA will take into account the manpower requirements as assessed
by this model when planning new services.
and Annex 2 set out the number of nurses and bed occupancy rates of
various HA clusters in the past five years respectively.
(2) In order to cope with
the increase in service demand due to the ageing population and
prevalence of seasonal influenza, HA has included service capacity
enhancement as a key element in the 2015-16 Annual Plan.
Apart from providing 250 new beds, HA will, on top of the
additional resources for the provision of these 250 new beds, provide
extra doctors, nurses and other supporting staff to strengthen
services. In 2016-17, HA
will continue to augment service capacity, including providing 231
additional beds and continuing to recruit healthcare staff.
It is projected that the number of full-time equivalent
doctors, nurses and allied health professionals for the year will be
increased by 145, 411 and 234 respectively as compared to 2015-16.
further cope with the increase in service demand due to the prevalence
of seasonal influenza, HA has formulated a series of step-up measures
to provide support for discharged patients and emergency services, and
enhance bed deployment and patient flow.
Examples of such measures include enhancing support for
discharged elderly patients through the Community Geriatric Assessment
Service, increasing the service capacity of convalescent hospitals and
further facilitating the transfer of patients in stable condition to
convalescent hospitals within the cluster.
Moreover, from mid to end March 2016, HA has increased the
weekly general out-patient clinic quota by around 2 000 to ease the
burden on accident and emergency departments.
manpower, HA has implemented the following measures to address
(a) Special Honorarium
Scheme (SHS): To better utilise existing manpower to address service
demand during winter surge, HA Head Office will co-ordinate the SHS
and provide funding for its implementation.
Greater flexibility for participation is allowed to encourage
more colleagues to join the scheme;
(b) Continuous recruitment
of full-time and part-time healthcare staff:
Public hospitals will continue to recruit full-time and
part-time healthcare staff.
HA Head Office will co-ordinate and provide funding for the
recruitment of part-time healthcare staff to strengthen the
flexibility in staff deployment, thereby easing the workload of
frontline staff; and
(c) Special Retired and
Rehire Scheme (SRRS): Depending on service needs and funding
availability, HA will consider extending the existing SRRS to retired
doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and supporting staff as
appropriate subject to an age limit of 65.
addition, HA also continues to launch a series of measures to retain
talents. These measures
(a) Enhancement of promotion
opportunities: During the period from 2008-09 to 2015-16, HA created
106 Nurse Consultant posts.
In 2014-15, an additional Senior Nursing Officer post was
created for each of the cluster hospitals.
During the past three years, a total of 1 358 nurses were
(b) Provision of more
The Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies of HA offers 26 nursing
specialist training courses each year for nurses to continuously
pursue further studies after graduation.
HA will also provide subsidies for over 100 senior nurses to
undergo further studies and training overseas each year;
(c) Enhancement of
Under HA's preceptorship program, experienced nurses are recruited
through formats such as special allowance and part-time employment to
serve as preceptors to provide guidance for newly recruited nurses in
an actual clinical setting, thereby familiarising them with ward
procedures and environment as well as alleviating the work pressure of
other experienced nursing staff in coaching new nurses.
HA will also provide simulation training for newly recruited
nurses to enhance their first aid and emergency handling skills;
(d) Improvement of work
environment: HA has
installed 6 000 additional electrically-operated beds and over 500
ceiling hoist systems to facilitate the lifting and transfer of
patients. This can help
simplify the burdensome work processes of ward staff and improve the
work environment and facilities, thereby relieving the work pressure
of frontline nurses; and
(e) Recruitment of
additional ward clerks and ward assistants:
HA will recruit additional ward clerks and ward assistants to
assist nurses in carrying out clerical work and providing patient care
to ease the workload of nurses.
the implementation of various measures to improve manpower supply, the
number of nurses in HA has been increasing in the past few years.
The number of full-time equivalent nurses increased from 22 759
on March 31, 2014 to 24 548 on March 31, 2016.
In 2016-17, HA plans to recruit more than 1 700 nurses and it
is expected that the number of nurses will be increased to 24 959 on
March 31, 2017.
(3) HA will take forward the
construction, expansion and redevelopment of various hospital projects
in the coming 10 years to provide about 5 000 additional beds to meet
the healthcare service needs of the public.
enhancing the hardware and service capacity of hospitals, HA also
attaches great importance to healthcare manpower supply.
Nevertheless, as mentioned in (1) above, HA will deploy nursing
manpower flexibly to meet the operational needs and will not set rigid
nurse-to-patient or nurse-to-bed ratios.
Other details such as the number of beds in different
specialties, the number of additional nurses required and the expected
bed occupancy rate will be worked out at a later stage.
a mechanism in place to assess manpower requirements and conduct
manpower planning to ensure the sufficient provision of healthcare
staff to meet the needs.
Moreover, HA has been recruiting full-time and part-time nursing staff
and it will actively employ any suitable candidates who meet the job
training of local nurses, there are currently over 2 800 nursing
training places in Hong Kong each year.
The University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong
and Hong Kong Polytechnic University provide a total of 630 University
Grants Committee-funded degree places annually.
HA, private hospitals and other higher education institutions
also operate a variety of self-financing nursing programmes, offering
400, 310 and 1 537 places respectively each year.
The Government provides subsidies for students to pursue
designated self-financing undergraduate programmes in nursing
discipline starting from 2015-16 academic year.
The number of subsidised places increased from 420 in 2015-16
academic year by 60 to 480 in 2016-17 academic year.
HA anticipates that with the increasing number of nursing
graduates in the coming years, the problem of shortage in nursing
manpower will be alleviated.
training of non-local nurses, the Nursing Council of Hong Kong has
increased the frequency of the Licensing Examination from once to
twice a year since 2016 to attract more non-locally trained nurses to
practise in Hong Kong, thereby alleviating the problem of the shortage
in nursing manpower in the local public and private healthcare system.
response to the challenges of an ageing population and increasing
demand for healthcare services with higher expectations, the
Government is conducting a strategic review on healthcare manpower
planning and professional development in Hong Kong.
The review aims to make recommendations that would enable our
society to better meet the projected demand for healthcare
professionals including nurses as well as to foster professional
development. We expect
that the review will be completed in mid-2016.
The Government will then publish the report and consult
stakeholders on how to take forward the recommendations accordingly.
continue to monitor the manpower situation and implement various
measures to attract and retain staff, with a view to relieving the
situation of the shortage in nursing manpower.
In addition, appropriate arrangements will be made in manpower
planning to ensure sufficient provision of healthcare manpower and
facilities to meet service demand upon completion of various hospital
development and redevelopment/expansion projects.