The Hospital Authority has been criticised for making videos with celebrities to cheer on medical professionals, amid calls for more resources during peak flu season.

The authority uploaded six clips featuring singers Alan Tam, Kelly Chen, Miriam Yeung, a member of the group C AllStar, as well as actress Susan Tse and footballer Yapp Hung-fai.

In an internal email, the authority said the videos were made “to thank [staff] for the hard work and professionalism.”

YouTube video

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, also a doctor, said the Hospital Authority’s campaign was absurd: “The Hospital Authority thinks the pressure on front line medical professionals can be relieved by finding celebrities to make videos and cheer for them. This is laughable!” he said.

Kwok shared a video on his Facebook page of an experienced nurse speaking about the difficulties of working at public hospitals.

Bed occupancy rates at many public hospitals exceeded 100 per cent on Wednesday. The rates at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Pok Oi Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital were all over 110 per cent.

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But according to the nurse, who gave her name as Queenie, the true rate could be as high as 144 per cent.

“On average, a room can accept at most 39 patients. Now we have 56,” she said. “How do we deal with 56 patients? Just add more beds in every corner that we can – outside the manager’s room, outside the toilet, outside the pantry. Anywhere we can walk, we add beds.”

Kwok said what Queenie described was a real situation.

“If the Hospital Authority does not change its current system, front line medical professionals will leave gradually and Hong Kong people will only wait and wait at hospitals,” he said.

Public hospital beds
Public hospital beds. File Photo: Hospital Authority.

Lawmaker Rebecca Chan, who was previously a political assistant to the secretary for food and health, said the Hospital Authority had good intentions.

“But it was slightly detached from reality,” she said. “The problems can’t be solved by finding celebrities to cheer for people.”

She said the Hospital Authority must face the root of the issue, in that the workload for medical professionals was too heavy, and they were not paid reasonably when they had to work overtime.

Medical sector lawmaker Pierre Chan said the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association and the Frontline Doctors’ Union will host a rally on Saturday to speak about difficulties facing doctors.

nurse doctor protest
Protest organised by the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff. Photo: Stand News.

Last Sunday, more than 100 members from the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff protested outside government headquarters, demanding more be done to tackle overstretched resources at public hospitals.

They asked for a reasonable number of nursing staff, improvements to be made in clinical supervision and administrative management, and for medical equipment to be updated.

The protesters also said that top management at the Hospital Authority should not receive bonuses given the current situation.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government announced on Thursday that kindergartens and child care centres will suspend classes for Lunar New Year early in response to the flu outbreak.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.