The Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff has requested the Chief Executive address problems with public hospitals, particularly the overcrowding issues at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and their wards.

“The pressure on front-line nurses is at a critical point,” said the association in an open letter to Leung Chun-ying published in newspapers on Wednesday.

A notice at Queen Elizabeth Hospital last week told patients that on average the waiting time would exceed 24 hours. Photo: Stand News/TVB screenshot.

“In recent days during the outbreak of winter influenza, the A&E department and its wards in public hospitals were at over capacity, and the situation is severe,” said the association. “The nurse-to-patient ratio was 1:12, far exceeding the international standard of 1:6.”

The association requested “special measures for emergency times”. They also asked the chief executive to increase resources and manpower at public hospitals.

“[They] cannot endlessly add beds but not manpower. This makes both nurses and patients suffer,” the letter said.

The association’s open letter came after the Hospital Authority published statistics showing that every public hospital in Hong Kong were over capacity last week, with six hospitals exceeding 120% of capacity. A notice at Queen Elizabeth Hospital told patients that the average waiting time would exceed 24 hours.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.