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LCQ12: Doctors working in general outpatient clinics

    Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (January 30):


     It has been reported that starting from October 1, 2007, the Hospital Authority (HA) offers a nine-year employment contract to doctors undergoing specialist training. Yet, some doctors working in HA's general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) told me that they were recently offered a one-year renewal contract only (and the total duration of their renewed and previous contracts was still under nine years), and the heavy workload also affected their training opportunities. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of a breakdown of the number of doctors working in GOPCs at present by their employment status (i.e. civil servants, permanent staff, contract staff etc.);

(b) since July 2003, of the respective annual numbers of GOPC doctors recruited and those who were not offered contract renewal, as well as the reasons thereof;

(c) of the reasons for not offering a nine-year employment contract to doctors working in GOPCs and whether HA has considered the effect of this measure on the morale of the staff concerned;

(d) of the current minimum, average and maximum numbers of patients attended by GOPC doctors in each four-hour session and whether HA has assessed if the workload of these doctors has affected their training opportunities; and

(e) when HA assigns work to GOPC doctors, how many hours per week it grants to those doctors undergoing specialist training in Family Medicine for receiving the relevant training, and whether HA gives the other GOPC doctors time or subsidy for participating in continuing medical education activities; if so, of the details?


Madam President,

(a) Currently, doctors working in general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) under the Hospital Authority (HA) can be divided into two categories: one comprising doctors employed by GOPCs and the other comprising family medicine trainees under specialist training. A breakdown of the number of these doctors by their employment status is set out at Annex I.

(b) The numbers of GOPC doctors on contract terms recruited annually by the HA and those who did not renew contracts since July 2003 are set out at Annex II. In general, the reasons for not renewing contracts included that the HA decided not to renew contracts based on the consideration of service needs and the performance of the doctors, or doctors resigned during their employment period or declined the contract renewal offer according to their own will.

(c) For doctors working in GOPCs on contract terms not under any specialist training, their contract periods are normally set at not more than three years subject to service needs. Upon contract completion, the HA will consider arrangements for renewal of their contracts in the light of their performance and service needs. For family medicine trainees working in GOPCs, they were employed on two two-year contracts in the past. To cope with the specialist training requirements, the HA has introduced a new "nine-year training contract" at the end of 2007 to ensure that doctors under specialist training have sufficient time to complete their training. For family medicine trainees employed since the end of 2007, they are offered a nine-year employment contract upon appointment. Under the contract, they are required to meet the specified performance requirements within the contract period and pass the intermediate examination within six years.

     This new mechanism is also applicable to those family medicine trainees who joined the HA before the end of 2007 and are still serving in the HA. These doctors will be offered a new contract if they meet the specified performance requirements and pass the intermediate examination as required. The total contract period of the new and existing contracts will add up to nine years. The HA is now making arrangement for these doctors to change to the new contract terms in batches.

(d) According to the figures in December 2007, overall speaking, the number of consultations provided by GOPC doctors in each of the consultation sessions (4 hours each) ranged from 26 to 44, with 37 on average. In general, for family medicine trainees working in GOPCs, duties are assigned to them based on the service and operational needs and the training requirements. The present work arrangement is not only in compliance with the training requirements of the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians but can also meet the overall service needs of the GOPCs.

(e) Family medicine trainees working in GOPCs are arranged to receive training of not less than three hours per week from qualified family medicine specialist doctors in the GOPCs. Besides, according to the rules laid down by the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, family medicine trainees under the HA have to attend one session (about three hours) of seminars on basic family medicine each week.

     The HA always encourages serving GOPC doctors to participate in training programmes on family medicine or primary health care, including family medicine specialist training and diploma or master degree programmes on family medicine. The relevant department will provide necessary coordination in light of the service operation and manpower arrangement. Besides, the HA also encourages all serving doctors to take continuous learning activities organised by the HA or other institutions on a voluntary basis.

Ends/Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Issued at HKT 12:20


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