Hospital Authority (HA) officials are meeting Thursday to discuss demands by public hospital doctors for an extra pay rise.
The authority is considering using its reserves to pay for an additional 3 percent boost being sought by the doctors in line with earlier increases for senior civil servants, Apple Daily reports, citing chairman John Leong.
The meeting follows a sit-in protest on Wednesday in Queen Elizabeth Hospital by more than 1,300 public hospital doctors.
They were joined by academics and medical professionals from the private sector.
The protesters said their mass action was not about money but about restoring dignity to the profession.
They said they agreed to pay cuts in 2009 in line with those for civil servants but were left out when the government gave extra pay increases to senior government employees this year.
The Hong Kong Medical Association said it collected 1,600 signatures in support of the doctors’ demands.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man told the doctors his department supports an extra 3 percent pay hike which will cost an additional HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) a year.
He said the money could come from the Hospital Authority “as long its finances are sustainable”.
Ko said the government is unlikely to pay for any extra increase after the salary scheme for public hospital doctors was de-linked from the civil service pay mechanism.
HA chief executive Leung Pak-yin said it might take two to three months to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, some public hospital doctors and officials are threatening to stop any administrative work if they don’t receive a positive response from the authority by November, Pierre Chan Pui-yin, chairman of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, said.
Au Yiu-kai, a council member of the Hong Kong Medical Association, accused the government of shirking responsibility.
He said the authority’s reserves should be used for overtime allowance and for hiring medical staff.
Legislator Kwok Ka-Ki, who is also a medical doctor, said he will will take up the issue in the Legislative Council.
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