Hong Kong is facing a worsening shortage of qualified nurses.
Staff to patient ratio has deteriorated to 1:11 from 1:10 in 2003, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported, citing a survey by the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff. That compares with the international benchmark of 1:6 in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the ratio of nurses to less qualified patient care assistants is now 2:1 from 3:1 in 2003, reflecting a serious marginalization of nurses in the hiring of healthcare staff, according to the survey, which involved 1,655 nurses in the public sector as respondents. Healthcare assistants are paid HK$9,000 to HK$10,000 against an average of HK$30,000 for nurses.
This came even as the city’s nursing staff swelled from 18,000 to 22,000 over the past 10 years.
Lawmaker Joseph Lee Kok-long, who represents the Health Services functional constituency, said the Hospital Authority has focused a great deal on the hardware (hospital facilities) rather than on the software (human capital).
The government has raised its funding to the Hospital Authority to HK$40 billion last year, from HK$26 billion in 1999. The spending on medical staff, however, only stood at HK$3.2 billion, compared with HK$2.2 billion in 1999.
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