Community treatment center offers HK$50,000 salary to poached caregivers
Community treatment center AsiaWorld-Expo has offered up to HK$50,000 a month to attract caregivers, prompting quits at public hospitals.
Sing Tao Daily, the Standard’s sister newspaper, reported that the increase in treatment and isolation facilities in Hong Kong is triggering a surge in demand for caregivers. It causes fierce competition between establishments and public hospitals.
AsiaWorld-Expo’s community treatment facility treats patients with mild symptoms, allowing public hospitals to focus on caring for people with severe symptoms. It was understood that to attract staff members, he once offered a monthly salary of up to HK$50,000.
The first isolation center for elderly people with mild symptoms, run by the charity Po Leung Kuk, recently opened at the Choi Wing Road Sports Center in Kwun Tong. The center offered more than HK$30,000 per month to recruit caregivers.
At the same time, some nursing homes with confirmed cases were offering wages two to three times the normal level to attract workers.
The labor shortage in public hospitals, especially emergency departments, is further exacerbated, according to frontline staff.
A carer working at a public hospital said the number of patients waiting in the emergency room had exploded in recent months. Some of them are elderly with Covid symptoms.
“Many social workers have changed jobs. Those who remain face the greatest pressure of all time. It’s a vicious circle,” she said.
She also said that the labor shortage would not only prolong the waiting time for patients, but even affect the hospital’s emergency departments.
“If a patient is rushed to hospital, medical staff should measure their blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels every two hours. But the guidelines cannot be followed because hospitals are sorely lacking in staff.”
She said a patient arrived at the hospital a few days ago with a drop in blood oxygen to 50% of the normal level.
According to past practice, the patient should receive first aid immediately. But the processing was delayed for about five minutes.
Lawmaker Frankie Ngan Man-yu described the situation as “extremely unsatisfactory”, saying the government has a responsibility to coordinate recruitment at isolation centers because many of them are contracted out to government departments.
“Authorities may consider increasing the salary of public hospital positions accordingly, to prevent these staff from heading to other isolation facilities,” he said.