Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Dr E K Yeoh,at the Opening Ceremony of 25th Anniversary Celebration for the founding of the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University today (March 11):
Professor Gong, Mr Tzang, Professor Woo, Professor Wong, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you to witness and celebrate a major milestone in the history of nursing education in Hong Kong, the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The Department of Nursing and Health Sciences is a forerunner and a fervent supporter of tertiary nursing education. It started the very first full-time degree in nursing studies in Hong Kong in 1990, runs higher diploma level programmes in nursing since 1996, and offers Master programmes in nursing starting from 1998.
The role of nurses in the delivery of primary, secondary and tertiary care is evolving and expanding as the mode of delivery of health care services undergoes major transformation. Into the new millennium, the focus of our health care system and of health care professionals is on the wellness of individuals : "a state of complete physical, mental and social well being" - in the words of the World Health Organisation. We need a health care system which can provide life-long holistic care, promote health, enhance quality of life and enable human development. In line with international trends, we are shifting our focus in the provision of health care services from the traditional hospital setting to ambulatory and community care. In the long run, a network of community-focussed integrated health care services on preventive care will complement the hospital system. More health care will be delivered in the home environment to help maximise the quality of life of patients. Patients staying in hospitals will be acutely ill, requiring intensive attention and complex care; while patients with less complex conditions can be cared for at home.
Against such developments, we see a further expansion in the role of nurses. Nursing care has to extend beyond the confines of physical caring and managing health services. Nursing interventions will have to focus on health surveillance, maintenance, counselling, promotion and education, encompassing both the physical as well as the psychosocial elements of care. In the home care setting, visiting nurses will have the opportunity to teach patients and their families and other carers in the homes, self-care techniques, manage their anxieties as well as monitor and manage risk in the home environment. In the primary care setting, nurses will be health promoters and educators, promoting the concept of wellness in schools, workplaces and the community. Nurses will also be heavily relied upon, notably in the care of the elderly, the chronically ill, the disabled and handicapped.
To prepare for the challenges ahead, nurses should be educated as competent health professionals in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating health needs and in decision making. They need to possess skills and knowledge in health assessment, health promotion, prevention of diseases, encouragement of client self-care and consumer involvement. In this regard, I have to look to our tertiary institutions in preparing nurses to take up their expanded role in the delivery of health care services.
The Hong Kong Government is committed to upgrading basic nursing education to degree level. We started our first intake of 40 first-year-first-degree places in pre-registration nursing programme in 1990 and by now the number has increased to 280. I am glad to see that 40 per cent of the registered nurses in our public hospital system are degree holders. We shall continue to press ahead with the upgrading of our nursing team, working to further expand our tertiary programme for nursing and facilitating the continuing professional development in nursing.
I understand that the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences will soon be upgraded to School of Nursing, offering dedicated disciplines in community health, family health, aged health, mental health, nursing therapeutics and biomedical science. The structure of disciplines of the new School of Nursing aptly supports our long-term health care delivery model and can best prepare our nursing profession in discharging their expanded role in the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health. I would like to take this opportunity to send the Department my congratulations.
Lastly, I wish to thank the Department of Nursing and Health Services for what it has done in promoting tertiary nursing education and upgrading the competence of our nursing profession. With its excellent track record, I am sure that I can count on the Department to train high calibre nursing professionals to support our health care system. And I wish the Department every success in its future endeavours.
End/Monday, March 11, 2002