Face-off: Should public hospital doctors receive the same benefits as civil servants?

Face-off: Should public hospital doctors receive the same benefits as civil servants?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic.This week ...

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Members of the Public Doctors' Association take part in a sit in protest at the Queen Elizabeth hospital.
Photo: AFP

Lucinda Kam Wing-lam, 19, University of Hong Kong 

The scene, with around 1,000 doctors from public hospitals staging a two-hour sit-in last month, was quite eye-catching. They were demanding a 3 per cent pay rise - the same salary adjustment that senior civil servants were offered. In the end, the government agreed to the doctors' demands.

I believe Hong Kong's doctors and civil servants should enjoy the same benefits. Our doctors are very dedicated and efficient and they deserve a wage increase. Some of them work 55 hours a week and only have a short break between operations, especially during emergencies.

The current shortage of doctors has increased the workload of the city's medical workers. So they are under tremendous pressure and work long hours. Besides, doctors have to deal with life-and-death situations almost every day. In comparison, many civil servants have a much easier life - and are paid better.

According to reports, some 3,000 senior staff members would receive the pay rise, costing the Hospital Authority an additional HK$200 million a year. But that's a price we have to pay if we want to maintain our world-class health system.

The last thing we want to see is a strike by doctors demanding higher wages. They deserve the government's respect and support. Therefore, I think doctors in public hospitals should receive the same benefits offered to civil servants.


Joy Pamnani, 17, PLK Ngan Po Ling College  

The recent protest by doctors demanding higher pay has sparked discussion about how employees in the public sector should be rewarded for their hard work. So should doctors in public hospitals receive the same benefits as civil servants? I don't think so. Introducing such a policy means our healthcare system would suffer.

Those who support the three per cent pay rise for doctors should consider the impact such a move would have on our healthcare system.

At present, the Hospital Authority is struggling to provide a good-quality, low-cost service to Hong Kong residents. Now that the doctors' demands have been met, the authority would need more money, so the public could end up paying more for hospital services. This would badly affect people from low-income families as they cannot afford to go to private hospitals.

Or if the authority decides not to increase hospital fees, the quality of our medical services would suffer. This would be a shame because Hong Kong is well-known for its efficient health system.

When we think of doctors, we should not only think of their salary. What about their benefits? For example, they are provided free or heavily subsidised medical services for themselves and their family members. Also, some doctors live within the hospital premises or are given flats nearby. Imagine how much they would have to spend if they had to buy or rent a flat?

Before we assume that our doctors aren't paid enough, we need to understand that the extra benefits are there, it's just that they aren't expressed in terms of salary. So the term "same benefits as those enjoyed by civil servants" doesn't apply here.

Put simply, doctors in public hospitals should not get the same benefits given to civil servants.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should public hospital doctors receive the same benefits as civil servants?

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