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LCQ15: Manpower of radiographers in HA

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (March 21):


     According to the latest statistics released by the Hong Kong Cancer Registry of the Hospital Authority (HA), the number of cancer patients in 2009 has increased by about 22% as compared to that in 2000.  It is learnt that 90% of the cancer patients receive chemotherapy and electrotherapy in public hospitals, but the worsening turnover of radiographers in HA in recent years had rendered HA unable to meet its performance pledge of providing cancer patients with electrotherapy within four weeks upon confirmation of their cases.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:

(a)  the numbers of radiographers (including diagnostic radiographers and radiotherapists) needed under HA's establishment in each of the past three years, and how such numbers compare with the actual numbers, with a breakdown by the hospital to which they belong and their rank;

(b)  the respective numbers of diagnostic radiographers and radiotherapists who resigned, retired and were newly recruited in each of the past three years; and whether HA could fill all such vacancies; if not, the reasons for that;

(c)  whether HA has assessed if the existing manpower of diagnostic radiographers and radiotherapists is sufficient to cope with the service demand, so as to meet its performance pledge of providing patients with electrotherapy within four weeks upon confirmation of their cases; if it has, the details; if not, whether it will consider conducting such an assessment; and

(d)   whether HA has conducted any planning for the supply of and demand for diagnostic radiographers and radiotherapists in the next five years; if it has, the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Hospital Authority (HA) has always endeavoured to ensure the quality and efficiency of its radiological services.  In recent years, the manpower situation of Radiation Therapists has remained relatively stable while there have been a comparatively greater number of vacancies and a higher turnover rate in respect of Radiographers.  HA has implemented various measures, including introduction of a special honorarium scheme and employment of part-time staff to alleviate the shortage of Radiographers.  HA has also enhanced its overseas recruitment and overseas training sponsorship scheme with a view to increasing the manpower supply of Radiographers.

     Under the Radiographers (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure) Regulation (Cap 359H), Radiographers and Radiation Therapists must first register with the Radiographers Board (the Board) before they can practise in Hong Kong.  Apart from local graduates, Radiographers and Radiation Therapists trained overseas with qualifications meeting the registration requirements can also practise in Hong Kong after they have registered with the Board.  In the past two years, HA recruited more than 20 Radiographers from overseas.  In 2012, HA will continue recruit additional local and overseas-trained Radiographers to cope with the manpower demand.

(a)   In the past three years, the total numbers of Radiographers in HA are 731, 734 and 747 respectively.  A breakdown of the manpower of Radiographers by rank in HA hospital clusters is set out in Annex 1.

     In the past three years, the total numbers of Radiation Therapists in HA are 166, 172 and 180 respectively.  A breakdown of the manpower of Radiation Therapists by rank in HA hospital clusters is set out in Annex 2.

(b)  In the past three years, the numbers of Radiographers who left and retired from HA and those joined HA as new recruits are shown in Annex 3.

     There are currently about 50 vacancies of Radiographers in HA.  In 2012-13, HA plans to continue to recruit Radiographers both locally and from overseas in an effort to fill these vacancies and ensure that there is an adequate supply of manpower.

(c)  HA's service performance pledge is to allow 80% of patients to receive radical radiotherapy four weeks from decision to treat.  In 2011, more than 90% of the patients commenced their radical radiotherapy four weeks from decision to treat.  In 2012, HA will continue to closely monitor the demand of radiotherapy services and make appropriate arrangements in manpower planning and deployment in order to meet its service performance pledge.

(d)  The Food and Health Bureau assesses the manpower requirements for healthcare professionals including nurses and allied health professionals according to the triennial planning cycle of the University Grants Committee (UGC), and advises the UGC on the corresponding requirements for publicly-funded places to facilitate academic planning by tertiary institutions.  In making long-term manpower projections, we will take into account the anticipated manpower requirements of major healthcare providers having regard to, among other things, the wastage trends of different healthcare professions, the ageing rate of the population and changes in demographic profiles, and the community's need for services in particular areas, etc.  We will also take into consideration the implications on healthcare manpower arising from changes in healthcare services delivery models and related policies such as development of primary care and private hospitals and the introduction of a Health Protection Scheme.  For the triennial cycle starting from 2012, the Government will allocate an additional $200 million to increase the number of first-year first-degree places in medicine by 100, nursing by 40 and allied health professions by 146.  The additional training places for allied health professions include those for radiographers, which will be increased from 48 places in 2011-12 to 98 places in 2012-13.

     Based on the outcome of the Second Stage Public Consultation on Healthcare Reform, the Government has set up a high-level steering committee to conduct a strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development in Hong Kong.  The review covers healthcare professionals from 13 disciplines which are subject to statutory regulation, including registered radiographers covered under the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance.  Chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health, the Steering Committee on Strategic Review on Healthcare Manpower Planning and Professional Development will assess manpower needs in the various healthcare professions and put forward recommendations on how to cope with anticipated demand for healthcare manpower, strengthen professional training and facilitate professional development having regard to the findings of the strategic review, with a view to ensuring the healthy and sustainable development of Hong Kong's healthcare system.

Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:16


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