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Collaborative measures taken to cope with sudden surge in service demand
The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     The spokesperson for the Hospital Authority (HA) today (July 21) announced collaborative measures with other departments and organisations to cope with the sudden surge in service demand amid the summer influenza peak season, including support for patient care in accident and emergency (A&E) departments and patient transfer services provided by the Auxiliary Medical Service (AMS) and the Hong Kong St John Ambulance departments, and an agreement reached with St Teresa Hospital (STH) to receive patients from public hospitals. The HA will also increase the general outpatient clinic (GOPC) service quotas to relieve pressure on A&E departments and take care of patients with mild ailments.

     The Hospital Authority Director (Cluster Services), Dr Cheung Wai-lun, expressed his gratitude for the support from various organisations. "The AMS will help take care of patients waiting for consultation in eight busy A&E departments. The AMS will also deploy designated ambulances to support the patient transfer at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, including patient discharge, inter-hospital transfer or patient follow-up consultation in special outpatient clinics. Hospitals can also solicit the help of the Hong Kong St John Ambulance's four ambulances for hospital transfer if needed. With the support from these voluntary ambulance brigades, the HA's Non-Emergency Ambulance Transportation Services would be spared and can focus on the transportation of discharged patients to expedite bed turnover for new patients," he said.

     Dr Cheung added STH responded promptly to make a new arrangment
based on the agreement in accordance with the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic to provide support to HA. "There will be 48 beds available for the HA to transfer patients with stipulated conditions, which helps vacate the public hospital beds to take care the patients with more serious clinical condition," he said.

     "The hospital transfer will be arranged subject to the patients' agreement.  The patient will pay $120 for maintenance fee per day. The expenses on medications and examinations will be paid by the HA."

     To alleviate pressure on A&E services and for the convenience of patients with mild ailments, the HA will strengthen primary care services through the addition of a total of 8,300 GOPC places to day clinics, evening clinics and holiday clinics.

     Dr Cheung thanked frontline clinical staff for their professional patient-centred care, overtime work, leave cancellation and deferred training, etc, to make possible the increase in GOPC service capacity. The HA will continue to actively recruit full time clinical staff. In view of the high turnover rate of ward supporting staff, the HA will take into account related work experience for additional pay points when hiring patient care assistants (in-patient service).

     "We would also like to thank the Hong Kong Medical Association for their appeal to private doctors to extend service hours and enrol in public hospitals’ part time services. The HA has sent letters to invite doctors from the Department of Health to work in GOPC or A&E departments in their off-duty time for the coming three months. The HA will adopt flexible employment terms to employ more doctors to provide services in public hospitals so as to alleviate the work pressure of frontline staff." he said.

     The HA will collaborate with the Social Welfare Department to speed up the allocation of places in homes for the elderly for patients assessed to be suitable for discharge and to remind homes for the elderly to arrange for patients return home as soon as possible.

     Last but not least, Dr Cheung said he would like to thank the public for their understanding and support. "All service units will be overcrowded during the service demand surge period. Patients in A&E departments and in-patient wards will have to wait for a longer period of time. Patients with mild conditions can consider seeking consultation at private doctors or GOPC," he said. He advised the public to observe personal hygiene and wash their hands frequently to reduce the risks of infection, while surgical masks should be worn if they have respiratory symptoms to prevent spread of the disease.
Ends/Friday, July 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:50
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