LCQ10: Manpower requirements for healthcare professionals

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (December 15):


     In the second stage consultation document on healthcare reform, the authorities pointed out that according to their projection, the implementation of the Health Protection Scheme (HPS) might require an increase of around 9% to 30% in capacity for private healthcare services over the next 10 years, and possibly up to 50% by 2036, and that the implementation of HPS and expansion of private healthcare capacity would require additional healthcare manpower.  Regarding the supply and training of doctors, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of medical graduates in each of the years from 2000 to 2009, and the forecast number of medical graduates in each of the coming years from 2011 to 2015;

(b) whether the authorities have carried out manpower planning for the annual demand for doctors in the public and private sectors as well as the entire healthcare system, having regard to the population size and demographic changes in the past 10 years, the number of non-local people using the local healthcare services and the policy on developing the medical services industry; if so, of the methodology of such planning, and the projected annual demand for doctors from 2000 to 2009; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) of the number of doctors and the turnover figures of doctors in the public healthcare system in each of the years from 2000 to 2009, together with a breakdown by their length of service; and

(d) whether it has projected if additional doctors are required over the next 10 years in light of the increase in the capacity for healthcare services arising from the implementation of HPS; if additional doctors are required, of the respective numbers of additional general practitioners and specialists required; given that it takes more than 10 years to train a specialist, of the specific measures that the authorities have put in place to increase the supply of doctors (especially in the next few years), and the respective numbers of new doctors expected to be brought into the local healthcare system by each measure?



(a) According to information provided by the Education Bureau, the number of graduates from University Grants Committee (UGC) funded medical undergraduate programmes in the academic years from 1999/2000 to 2009/2010 are as follows:

Academic year  Number of graduates
1999/2000     313
2000/01       328
2001/02       345
2002/03       328
2003/04       307
2004/05       314
2005/06       307
2006/07       320
2007/08       283
2008/09       268
2009/10       266 (provisional figures)

     On the basis of the actual number of students currently in different years of study in UGC funded medical undergraduate programmes provided by the respective institutions, the estimated number of medical graduates completing five years of study in each of the coming academic years from 2010/11 to 2013/14 are as follows:

Academic year    Estimated number of graduates
2010/11          257
2011/12          253
2012/13          273
2013/14          329

(Remark: the estimated figures above may be different from the eventual numbers of graduates actually emerging due to possible repeats, transfer, suspension, and termination of studies by some students for various reasons.)

     The estimated number of graduates in 2014/15 is not yet available.

(b) and (d) The Food and Health Bureau has been providing advice on manpower requirements for healthcare professionals, including doctors, in accordance with the triennial academic development planning cycle of the UGC.  In projecting the manpower requirements, the Government will take into account the views of the major employers of healthcare professionals, including the Hospital Authority (HA), the Department of Health (DH), welfare service providers and private hospitals.

     These organisations and departments will take note of the number of retirees each year and the trend of wastage, and make an assessment on the long term manpower requirements having regard to such factors as population ageing, demographic changes and the special needs of the community for particular areas of services.

     In making overall manpower requirement projections for healthcare personnel, the Government will also take into account the manpower implications of healthcare service delivery model and other related policies such as the development of primary healthcare services, promotion of private hospital development and the Health Protection Scheme.

     In addition, DH conducts survey on manpower of healthcare professionals (including doctors) regularly to collect the latest information on the numbers, characteristics and employment of healthcare professionals and keep track of changes in the trend.  We have all along been monitoring the manpower requirements for doctors closely and make recommendations to UGC on future publicly-funded student places for reference by the institutions in their academic planning.

     The actual enrolment figures of medical students in the tertiary institutions under UGC in 2000 to 2009 are as follows:

Academic Year  Enrolled Students
2000/01        329
2001/02        316
2002/03        325
2003/04        282
2004/05        281
2005/06        255
2006/07        254
2007/08        259
2008/09        255
2009/10        323

     As regards specialist training, HA employs every year the vast majority of the medical graduates from the two local universities, and on-the-job specialist training is provided to them in public hospitals and relevant medical services.  Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine is responsible for arranging, monitoring and assessing all the specialist medical training through its 15 colleges and awards specialist qualifications to qualifying candidates.

     HA, as the major public medical institution in Hong Kong, has to ensure that its services meet the needs of the public and will take into account service growth and development in its manpower resources planning.  In assessing the future demand for specialists, HA's main considerations are the implications of the growth and structural changes of the population on various service areas (including inpatient, ambulatory care, out-patient, acute care and community services, etc), the development of medical technologies, the direction in enhancing primary care and estimated staff turnover rate, etc.  Based on the assessment results, HA will formulate measures to recruit and retain staff so as to meet the growth in service demand.

(c) The public healthcare services in Hong Kong are mainly provided by HA and DH.  The strength and turnover figures of doctors (including departure through retirement, natural wastage, completion of contract and for other reasons) in HA and DH in each of the years from 2000-2009 are at Annex I and Annex II respectively.

Ends/Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:56