Medical bills passed despite controversy

Friday, August 13, 2010
Issue 1088, Page 2
Word count: 668
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The six medical personnel draft laws have been passed at the final reading yesterday, but a number of lawmakers deemed that a pay rise will not be enough to tackle the “core issues” and thus urged the Government to put in more effort to pursue a quality healthcare system in Macau.

The bills concerned the career regimes respectively of doctors, medical administrative personnel, clinic technicians, senior health technicians, health inspectors and also healthcare assistants.

Controversy has hovered mainly on the doctor career regime. A group of 213 public doctors from Conde de São Januário Hospital and the Health Bureau’s health centres published a statement on local Chinese newspapers, voicing opposition to the changes in their career regime.

Of which, they said that they were not satisfied with the proposed pay rise and overtime pay, and warned that they might take to the streets on October 1 if the draft law was passed.

Nevertheless, lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang praised the Third Standing Committee for having completed the discussions on all the six bills in such a short time frame – less than one and a half months since the first reading.

Kwan believed that a balance has been maintained in the bill as a result of the standing committee’s effort, but said that she was “confused” when seeing the opposition statement on the newspapers.

She said that she hoped the Government will not overlook these “internal problems” and can better deal with the job promotion system for public health professionals in the future.

In addition, Mak Soi Kun and Melinda Chan Mei Yi pointed out that the draft laws failed to reinforce professional training and to boost the quality of Macau’s healthcare system. Chan pressed the Government to establish the medical council as soon as possible in the hope to solve the “internal contradictions” effectively.

José Pereira Coutinho agreed. He said that local people have been longing for quality medical services but medical personnel also “need the Government’s support” in order to achieve the goal.

Coutinho said “fake consultations” held by the Government were the cause of the opposition among the public doctors.

“There is never meeting minutes for any of the consultations,” he said, adding the Government did not deal with the public opinions seriously.

Lam Heong Sang, who is also in the Third Standing Committee, told the plenary that he was “very disappointed”, as the committee has spared a lot of effort into the discussions and over MOP 100 million of public funds is going to be spend aiming to improve 1,314 people’s career prospects, “but only opposition is heard at the end”.

On the other hand, director of the Health Bureau Lei Chin Ion stressed that an internal examination will be held within two years for eligible medical professionals wishing to be promoted to a higher rank.

Bylaws for school teachers

The legislature yesterday also saw the final passage of the draft law concerning the career regime for teachers and teaching assistants in non-tertiary public schools.

Coutinho and Ho Sio Kam were concerned about whether the Government has any solid plans to enhance the quality of education as well as to ensure teaching staff’s work performance in a long-term.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U said that he agreed with the lawmakers, adding aside from a pay rise and expanding the career prospects, the Government also acknowledges the importance to increase the teaching quality.

Director of the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau Sou Chio Fai also said that the draft of the bylaw relating to teachers’ performance assessment and professional development has been outlined, and will be presented to public schools for a consultation after the new academic year begins in September.

Yet, a number of lawmakers urged the Government to launch the framework law for private school teachers as soon as possible, in a bid to narrow down the “significant” salary gap between them and public school teachers.

Yesterday plenary meeting was the last before the Legislative Assembly enters its two-month summer break.

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