Medical staff ‘reserved’ about new home loan scheme

Representatives of frontline doctors and nurses say a new home loan scheme rolled out by the Hospital Authority will probably not help much in retaining staff.

The authority announced on Thursday that it is to offer staff a downpayment loan for a property, capped at 48 months of their salary or HK$6 million, with the interest rate set at around 1 percent and a repayment period of 20 years.

Speaking on an RTHK programme on Friday, the president of the Public Doctors’ Association, Tony Ling, said other forms of financial assistance – such as a home loan interest subsidy scheme – used to be popular, but they are no longer the case.

“All along, frontline medical staff have been frustrated about the crowded situation and the poor service quality at public hospitals. So, if these core issues are not solved, I don’t think short term favours like this would help much,” he said.

The chairman of the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff, Anders Yuen, said he hadn’t talked to colleagues about the new offer yet, but noted a survey done earlier this year showed people are not leaving the sector merely because they can’t afford to buy a home.

“Back then, 80 percent of our colleagues who were planning to emigrate did not do so because of the property prices, but because of the wider social situation or the political situation… So, whether [the new offer] will ease the brain drain, I have reservation,” he told the same RTHK programme.

Since the loans have to be repaid in 20 years, Yuen said he believed only staff members who don’t mind staying with the Hospital Authority for two more decades would find the offer attractive.