HA tries to lift staff morale with videos; urged to get real

January 24, 2019 14:48
Following a recent protest by medical staff over stressful working conditions, the Hospital Authority has launched a video campaign featuring celebrities (inset pics) to boost the morale of frontline workers in public hospitals. Photos: HKEJ, HA

Facing complaints about a staff shortage in the healthcare system and increased work burden on the existing medical personnel, the Hospital Authority (HA) has launched a campaign to lift the morale of the doctors and nurses who are serving in the city's public hospitals.

As Hong Kong battles a winter flu crisis, the HA on Wednesday released videos showering praise on the hospital workers and expressing gratitude for their efforts to serve the community despite challenging conditions. 

In the video clips, which were posted on the HA's website and also circulated on hospitals' intranet systems, popular figures from the entertainment world are shown lauding the public hospital staff for taking care of patients in a difficult environment.

Aiming to lift the spirits of overworked doctors and nurses, the video campaign, bearing the theme "Cheer You Up", featured artists such as Cantopop singers and actors Alan Tam, Miriam Yeung Chin-wah and Kelly Chen Wai-lam. 

Miriam Yeung made for a particularly interesting pick among the various celebrities that were roped in for the pep talk, as she herself had been a public hospital nurse once.

Apart from releasing the videos, the HA also sent an internal email to all of its staff, expressing its gratitude to the frontline healthcare staff for their professionalism and dedication toward patients, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The authority was clearly trying to assuage the discontent among many hospital staff, who had been griping about inadequate manpower and stressful working conditions, especially in the past few weeks when doctors and nurses had to cope with swelling numbers of flu patients.

But it is debatable if the campaign achieves the desired results, as the reactions have been mixed.

Médecins Inspirés, a concern group formed by doctors and medical staff in the city, said in a social media post that HA's approach to the issue really made them 'speechless'.

Data from the authority show almost all public hospitals have seen occupancy rates of their medical wards exceed 100 percent for quite some time in the current peak flu season, meaning nurses and doctors are working under great pressure.

Given such situation, the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff, at a meeting Sunday, urged the government to take the issue of manpower shortage at public hospitals more seriously.

Dr. Pierre Chan Pui-yin, a lawmaker who represents the medical functional constituency, revealed that he is planning to initiate a rally, co-hosted by two industry organizations -- Frontline Doctors' Union (FDU), and Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association (HKPDA) -- this Saturday to allow public hospital doctors to voice their dissatisfaction over the extremely heavy workload faced by them.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee and Hospital Authority chief executive Leung Pak-yin will be invited to the gathering so that they can listen to the complaints directly, said Pierre Chan. 

Chan warned that continuing over-crowdedness at public hospitals could endanger patients as well as nurses and doctors.

Although issuing special allowances might help encourage medical staff to work overtime or cancel their leave, the related application and approval procedures for the allowance are too complicated, he said.

The management at middle and higher levels of public hospitals should put their administrative work on hold and "go to the frontline to support the staff", Chan said.

Medical staff and nurses joined a protest organized by the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff last Sunday, calling for more manpower, rather than monetary allowance, to tackle the severe staff shortage at public hospitals.

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