HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong's labour crunch hits children's hospital launch

It will only get worse, lawmakers warn.

A dearth of skilled medical professionals will delay the full opening of Hong Kong’s newest children’s hospital, a report from the territory’s legislative committee revealed.

The Hong Kong Children’s Hospital is scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2018, but there is yet no complete timeline for when it will become fully operational.

“As HKCH's service commissioning may further strain the healthcare manpower resources of the paediatric departments in existing Hospital Authority (HA) hospitals, [we] consider it necessary for the Administration to put in place measures to ease manpower pressure by increasing the recurrent expenditure of HA,” the report said.

The report noted that HKCH will commence service by phases to allow reasonable time for testing the service models and clinical workflow before the hospital is in full service, so as to ensure patient safety, quality of service and smoothness in operation.

However, lawmakers have urged the Hospital Authority to set a concrete timeline for HKCH's migrating to full service.

From 2011-2012 to 2017-2018, 128 doctors, 77 nurses and 48 allied health staff have undergone overseas training to cater for the preparation for HKCH's phased service commissioning. There have been another 6 000 attendances at local training.

Overseas and local training activities will continue in the coming years to enhance the professional standard of healthcare staff, the report noted.

Constructed in a span of over, 4 years, HKCH will serve as a tertiary referral centre for complex, serious and uncommon paediatric cases requiring multidisciplinary management, providing diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services for needy patients from birth to 18 years of age territory-wide.

It will also pool together expertise to strengthen research and training regarding paediatric and genetic diseases.

Amongst the services to be provided in HKCH at the initial phase include paediatric oncology, cardiology, nephrology, surgical and intensive care, as well as radiology, pathology and anaesthesia services. Clinical genetics services will also be developed in HKCH, and the existing Clinical Genetic Services under Department of Health will also be co-located at HKCH to enhance the service provision in a more coordinated fashion.

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