Ban strike doctors from specialisations: Regina Ip - RTHK
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Ban strike doctors from specialisations: Regina Ip

2020-04-08 HKT 16:00
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  • Ban strike doctors from specialisations: Regina Ip
New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip has called on the Hospital Authority to take tough measures against workers who went on strike in February, suggesting they should be barred from obtaining specialisations in different medical areas in the future.

Ip made the comments during a special finance committee meeting at Legco on Wednesday afternoon, which featured a number of officials from the Food and Health Bureau, and included Hospital Authority Chief Executive Dr Tony Ko.

Ip told the panel that she had received 27 complaints from people who had to have their surgery postponed because of the strike, and asked Ko if any disciplinary action had been taken against striking medical workers.

"In line with our HR policy, we will follow up with the relevant staff," he replied.

But that did not satisfy Ip, who accused him of giving an "ambiguous answer".

"Perhaps Dr Ko does not want to upset his staff, but this is unfair to the public," said Ip.

"Some people were shouting slogans such as a full border closure or asking for the five demands to be met. If the Hospital Authority does not take out disciplinary action in an appropriate manner, if future strikes occur again, how can public health be safeguarded?" she asked.

Ip then suggested that the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine should not grant specialist qualifications to any doctors working in the public sector looking to move into the private sector by becoming specialists.

"Some doctors are using the Hospital Authority as a stepping stone. For doctors who went on strike, who are yet to become specialists, they should not be granted specialist qualifications," said the pro-Beijing lawmaker.

Some lawmakers took issue with Ip's comments, including Democratic Party's Dr Helena Wong, who said Ip should apologise to the city's healthcare workers.

Wong said: "The healthcare workers went on strike because the government didn’t close the border. They didn’t want their healthcare system to collapse, so they took the steps to force the government to do something about it. It is unforgivable for you to ask for them to be punished later on."

"On one hand you’re talking about punishing them, on the other hand, you’re clapping hands for them, I think the pro-establishment camp members are not doing justice to the healthcare workers," she said, referring to a recent online video featuring 16 non-official members of the Executive Council, including Ip, applauding healthcare workers.

Medical sector lawmaker Dr Pierre Chan also reminded lawmakers that the city's healthcare workers were risking their lives fighting this epidemic, and are worried about infection, yet still report for duty.

"Don’t try to gain any political capital out of this, this is not the right time," he said.

Nursing sector lawmaker Professor Joseph Lee also joined Wong in criticising Ip's comments, saying: "I was shocked that some members are encouraging retribution; they are smearing healthcare professionals and they are asking the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine to not issue specialist qualifications. How can this ease the shortage of front line manpower?"

In February, thousands of hospital workers took part in a five-day strike calling on the government to close the border with the mainland in order to prevent people with coronavirus from entering the SAR.