With an aging population, Hong Kong is facing increasing demand for clinical nursing care.
In order to meet that demand, we need more clinical nursing specialists (CNS) to care for elderly patients.
The Hospital Authority (HA) should step up training in clinical nursing to nurture professionals in this field.
Hong Kong lags most developed countries in promoting and regulating clinical nursing.
Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Singapore have long-term CNS training programs and well-established certification and registration systems.
In Hong Kong, however, despite growing calls for such specialization, the government remains sluggish in addressing the issue.
It was not until 2005 that the HA created the position of senior nurse at the urging of the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff.
In 2011, through the efforts of our fellow nurses, the HA agreed to create the position of consultant nurse.
It was a major step toward specialization in clinical nursing but more remains to be done, especially in public hospitals.
Despite the fact that senior nurses and consultant nurses fulfill the role of CNSs, clinical nursing still is not recognized as a formal specialty in our public hospitals.
There is no official mechanism to oversee certification, registration and regulation of CNSs.
As a result, many senior and consultant nurses complain that they are often unclear about the exact scope of their practice, which sometimes leads to disputes with medical staff.
Worse, many patients don’t know what a CNS is supposed to do.
The role of a CNS is crucial because it involves critical care for patients with special needs.
Also, a CNS can offer expert advice on specific health conditions and treatment which often could mean life and death for some patients.
The importance of such specialists has grown in recent years, with the serious shortage of qualified doctors in public hospitals.
The HA should set up a CNS certification system as soon as possible and also create an independent body to oversee the practice.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 6.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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