‘Boost private dental sector to ease manpower woes’

The vice president of the Hong Kong Dental Association, Spencer Chan, described the proposal of bringing in non-local dentists as only an “interim measure” to tackle a manpower crisis in the dental sector, and said improving private dental services would be more effective.

Chief Executive John Lee had said in his Policy Address that he plans to bring in non-locally trained dentists and nurses as part of the administration’s efforts to revamp the healthcare system.

And earlier, health secretary Lo Chung-mau said the government is actively recruiting non-locally trained dentists, noting that there are currently about 50 vacancies in the public dental sector.

Chan attributed the manpower shortage to a series of factors, explaining that one of the reasons is because many government dentists are fast approaching retirement age.

“Secondly, maybe the latest migration wave might also affect the situation now. The Covid pandemic may be also affecting their working hours and productivity.”

Chan noted that the government’s proposal is an interim measure that would help alleviate the manpower crisis, but he stressed that boosting private dental services would be the most effective way.

“By introducing the non-locally trained dentists to provide service within the government sector, that can solve the acute demand within the government sector itself,” he said.

“In the short-term, the fastest way to solve the problem is to introduce the public-private partnership model.”

Chan also said non-locally trained dentists can be admitted to the public sector through limited registration, but they will need to pass a licencing examination if they want to practise in the private sector.


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