The Hong Kong government predicts that the city will be short by 1,000 doctors by 2030.

According to the Food and Health Bureau’s report review on healthcare manpower planning on Wednesday, the city may also be short of 1,700 nurses by the same year.

The Hospital Authority building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Most healthcare positions will suffer from manpower shortfalls within a decade, though manpower surpluses are expected for pharmacists and psychiatric nurses.

The projections took into account manpower in both the public and private sectors, as well as personnel needed in the fields of academia and training.

Worst case scenarios

The Hospital Authority – Hong Kong’s public hospital operator – already faces personnel shortages at present, and has been rehiring retired professionals to meet short-term demand.

But a bureau steering committee projects that shortages will increase significantly over the next decade, due to an ageing population and an increase in lifestyle-related diseases.

According to the bureau, the best case scenario would be a shortage of 800 doctors and 1,100 general nurses in 2030. The worst case scenario would see a shortfall of 1,600 doctors and 2,700 nurses.

Photo: GovHK.

In total, there are around 36,600 registered nurses and 14,000 fully-registered doctors in the city.

Hong Kong Medical Association president Choi Kin, however, cast doubt on the projected shortages, saying they may be exaggerated. He told reporters that the way in which the bureau surveyed the supply private medical professionals – through mailed questionnaires with a 30 per cent response rate – was not necessarily accurate.

See also: Gov’t proposes to increase emergency room charges from HK$100 to HK$180

In response to the findings, the bureau’s steering committee suggested in a press release that the government should train more doctors. “The government should consider increasing the number of University Grants Council-funded training places for those disciplines which will… be facing manpower shortage,” it wrote.

“More effort should be made to promote and publicise the [recruitment] registration arrangements overseas.”

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Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.