Following is the full text of the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, at the opening ceremony of the North District Hospital this (Saturday) morning:
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here with you to celebrate the grand opening of the North District Hospital.
The rapid development of new towns and our ever-increasing population have created an urgent demand for hospital services in the northern New Territories. A few years ago, the Government therefore decided to construct the North District Hospital at the cost of $1.7 billion. It took only five years for the hospital to be built after the approval of provision by the Government. This is indeed an achievement that we should take pride in.
The North District Hospital is a casualty clearing hospital. It has been operating in phases since February this year. In August, with the introduction of the accident and emergency services, the Hospital began to run 24-hour casualty services to offer the public with greater convenience. This was different from the past practice of extending the hours of accident and emergency services in phases. Apart from providing in-patient and out-patient services, the North District Hospital gives extra weight to the development of more cost-effective day-time health care services. Besides, the North District Hospital also serves as a community-based hospital and works closely with other institutions to develop community nursing service. For example, specialists are sent to four local care and attention homes for the aged to strengthen communication between the hospital and the homes for the aged.
This year, the North District Hospital and Tai Po Hospital started operation one after another. This manifests the commitment of the Government and the Hospital Authority in fulfilling their pledges to continue to provide people with quality health care services. To cope with the growth in population, we will put into use 853 additional beds next year, thereby bringing the total number of beds in public hospitals to 28,400. Moreover, we will continue to inject resources for the construction of more hospitals as well as other hospital improvement and development projects. Hospitals now under construction include Tseung Kwan O Hospital, Lai King Hospital and Kowloon Medical and Rehabilitation Centre. Furthermore, we have provided funds for a number of hospital improvement and development projects, which include the redevelopment of Pok Oi Hospital to cope with the increasing demand of the north-west New Territories and the setting up of a radiotherapy centre at Princess Margaret Hospital to upgrade the services for cancer patients.
While injecting resources for development, the Government is also responsible for the optimal use of resources in the most cost-effective way to meet the needs of the people. The estimated expenditure of the Hospital Authority for the current fiscal year amounts to $2.6 billion, accounting for 13 per cent of the overall recurrent public expenditure. Over the past few years, the Hospital Authority has been making efforts to raise its productivity by launching new services. I am deeply grateful to the staff of the Hospital Authority, especially those health care workers at the front line, for their continued dedication and contribution to the enhancement of productivity. During this period, the services provided by the Hospital Authority were upgraded in terms of both quality and quantity. This year, an Enhanced Productivity Programme will be launched in the public sector. It is hoped that the productivity gains amounting to five per cent of the operating expenditure between now and the year 2002 will be achieved.
All savings made by the government departments and subsidised agencies under the Enhanced Productivity Programme will be used for the development of new services and improvement of our existing services to meet the needs of the community. The Government will continue to attach great importance to medical services in the territory. I highly appreciate the pressure and challenges being faced by the health care workers. I strongly believe that the Hospital Authority and its staff will uphold their spirit in serving the community. With the introduction of advanced medical technology and new health care procedures, the Hospital Authority would review the demand for and the utility rate of various types of beds in public hospitals and strengthen the links among hospitals so as to achieve the target of productivity enhancement.
Apart from the continued improvement to the essential facilities in public hospitals, the Government will endeavour to ensure that our health care workers are all trained to the highest level of competence. As I know, the Hospital Authority is making every effort in ensuring a high degree of quality service and professional competence through various means, including the establishment of a clinical supervisory mechanism and the implementation of the clinical audit and risk management system.
The North District Hospital is an exemplary hospital with the nicest environment, and first-rate facilities and services. This achievement is attributed to the joint efforts of the Hospital and all staff of the Hospital Authority. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of them.
End/Saturday, November 14, 1998