14 December 1998
Health Services Panel
Hospital Services Department (HSD)
This paper seeks members' view on a proposal to transfer personnel management functions for the civil servants working in the Hospital Authority (HA) from the Hospital Services Department (HSD) to the Department of Health (DH).
2. HA took over the management responsibilities of all public hospitals from 1 December 1991, which then comprised over 20,000 civil servants. To reassure the civil servants working in HA that their legitimate interests will be protected, and to meet a practical service need, the then HSD was re-organised into a personnel department performing personnel management functions for this group of civil servants. Such personnel management functions include -
- advise HA Head Office and individual hospitals on administrative, manpower and other personnel matters which may have a bearing on the working conditions and morale of civil servants working in HA, such as interpretation and implementation of Civil Service Regulations, Civil Service Bureau's circulars and guidelines, pensions legislation and others;
- perform personnel functions related to staff discipline and conduct-related matters, appointment and promotion under the shadow appointment/promotion scheme, transfer out of HA, resignation, retirement, death and certain leave and training-related matters;
- operate a departmental staff consultative machinery and handle staff complaints and appeals; and
- for those ex-civil servants who have opted over to HA terms of employment, prepare their pension papers (relating to their civil service) upon their departure from HA.
3. By the end of the three-year option period (i.e. 1 December 1994), during which civil servants working in HA might change over to HA terms of employment, 11,343 had opted for HA terms, with 8,008 choosing to remain as civil servants. Since then, the number of civil servants in HA has decreased through natural wastage, by 29%, to 5,707 as at 1 November 1998. Over the same period, the establishment of HSD has decreased from 83 posts by 34% to 54 posts.
4. HA has taken over the management responsibilities of public hospitals for almost seven years. Civil servants working in HA now constitute only 12% of the total HA establishment. Given the decreasing number of civil servants working in HA, we consider that there is scope to improve the cost-effectiveness of providing personnel management services to the civil servants by transferring the personnel management functions to DH with effect from 1 April 1999. Following the transfer, the level and quality of the personnel management services to be provided by DH will not be materially different from those currently provided by HSD.
5. From 1999-2000 onwards, the Director of Health will replace the Administrator/HSD to be the "Head of Department" for the civil servants working in HA. Most of the existing HSD headquarters staff will be transferred to DH to perform personnel management functions. We will re-create for six months the current D2 post in HSD on a supernumerary basis until end September 1999 to ensure the smooth transfer of functions to DH.
Staff Consultation and Briefing
6. In September and October this year, HSD sounded out representatives of staff unions/associations on their views on the proposed transfer. The overwhelming view was that there should remain a government set-up either as a dedicated department or a division/section of a department to look after the conditions of service and personnel functions for the civil servants working in HA. This would help maintain their morale and ensure that their legitimate rights and interests as civil servants were preserved under HA's personnel policies and procedures.
7. HSD and DH separately conducted staff briefings at their Departmental Consultative Committee (DCC) meetings on 4 December 1998. Staff did not express objection to the transfer of personnel management functions to DH, but expressed some concerns on the following operational aspects of the proposal -
- whether the existing staff consultation mechanism will be maintained
The Administration has no objection to maintaining the existing staff consultation mechanism i.e. separate DCC and Grade Consultative Committee meetings for the civil servants working in HA.
- whether there will be a separate section in DH to serve the civil servants working in HA
Most of the current HSD headquarters staff will be transferred to DH and they will continue to perform personnel management functions for the civil servants working in HA initially as a separate unit. In future, there may be scope to re-organise the existing personnel management functions of DH to incorporate the work of the unit for more flexible deployment of resources. Nevertheless, the level and quality of services will not be materially different from the current ones.
- whether the civil servants working in HA is part of DH's establishment
To allow these staff equal opportunities for promotion in HA while retaining their civil servant status, a "shadow promotion scheme" has been devised and approved by the Finance Committee in 1991 to accomodate them in shadow posts. Accordingly, since December 1991, all related posts in the departmental and common grade in the then HSD were deleted and replaced by shadow posts in corresponding civil service ranks. After the transfer of personnel management functions to DH with effect from 1 April 1999, these shadow posts will be retained and the civil servants working in HA will continue to be accommodated under this "shadow" establishment. The existing appointment and promotion arrangements under the shadow appointment/promotion scheme will continue.
We have also informed the staff that the existing transfer arrangement will be maintained if civil servants in common grades working in HA want to apply for transfer to DH.
8. The transfer of personnel management functions from HSD to DH represents a re-shuffling of duties. This arrangement will neither affect the terms of employment of the civil servants working in HA, nor affect the personnel management services provided by the Administration to these staff. We will seek the approval of the Establishment Committee and Finance Committee to delete the D2 post in HSD and to change the delegated authority for the creation and deletion of shadow civil service ranks and posts for civil servants working in HA from the Administrator/HSD to the Director of Health.
Health and Welfare Bureau