Guangdong to send 12 doctors to Hong Kong under Greater Bay Area exchange scheme

Exchange falls under Greater Bay Area Healthcare Talents Visiting Programmes, Hospital Authority’s chairman Henry Fan says.

Guangdong province will send a dozen doctors to work in Hong Kong upon approval by relevant authorities in a new exchange programme aimed at easing a manpower crunch caused by emigration and healthcare professionals joining the private sector.

Hospital Authority chairman Henry Fan Hung-ling on Saturday revealed that the doctors had been nominated by the province’s Health Commission to join the Greater Bay Area Healthcare Talents Visiting Programmes.

“These doctors are very experienced, all from Grade 3A hospitals in Guangdong province,” he wrote on his official blog. “After their applications get approved, they can come to Hong Kong very quickly to roll up their sleeves.”

Fan said the authority had been working out details for nurses and radiographers to take part in the scheme, possibly by the end of the year.

“Along with closer cooperation with the Greater Bay Area, the exchanges of medical staff between the two places can enhance the quality of medical services and relieve the city’s manpower strain with appropriate medical services,” he said.

The Greater Bay Area is a plan by Beijing to turn nine cities in Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macau into an economic powerhouse by 2035.

The healthcare talent scheme was announced in June this year to cope with the rising manpower crunch in public hospitals caused by emigration and medical professionals moving to the private sector.

According to a government prediction in 2020, Hong Kong will be short of 1,600 doctors and 2,700 nurses by 2030.

As of April, the turnover rate over the past year stood at 7.9 per cent for full-time doctors, equivalent to the loss of about 500 physicians, and 9.5 per cent for nurses, or about 2,600, according to the authority.

Only medical professionals from the top three tiers of mainland hospitals are eligible for the scheme, and they must have worked at the city’s AsiaWorld-Expo makeshift hospital during the fifth wave of coronavirus infections earlier this year. They can only work at public hospitals and stay in Hong Kong for one year.

The visiting doctors must be approved by the Medical Council under a limited registration scheme. Fan pledged the plan would not affect the promotion of local practitioners.

The authority chairman also thanked 400 mainland medical workers who came to Hong Kong to assist in the government’s fight against Covid-19, saying the collaboration laid the foundation for closer cooperation between healthcare workers on both sides of the border.