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LCQ5: Health care services of New Territories West Cluster

    Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (December 12):


     Regarding the health care services for Yuen Long (including Tin Shui Wai), will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  although the Government indicated in a paper submitted to this Council in 2002 that Pok Oi Hospital (POH) would have a complement of 742 beds (including 622 acute in-patient beds) upon completion of the redevelopment project for POH, only 200 additional beds have been provided in POH since the completion of the project this year, when the remaining planned beds will be commissioned, of the estimated additional health care staff and funding required for the full commissioning of such beds, as well as the additional health care staff and funding the Government will provide to POH in the next two years;

(b)  whether it has assessed if the number of beds currently provided in POH can cope with the demand of the population of Yuen Long district, which exceeds 560 000, for public health care services; and

(c)  given that the Secretary for Food and Health indicated last month that hopefully a hospital would be provided in Tin Shui Wai within 10 years, and priority would be accorded to setting up a 24-hour out-patient clinic in Tin Shui Wai, of the preliminary work being undertaken for the construction of a hospital in Tin Shui Wai, when the 24-hour out-patient clinic will be set up, and the manpower and funding to be committed for such plans?


Madam President,

(a)  The New Territories West Cluster (NTWC) comprises Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH), Pok Oi Hospital (POH), Castle Peak Hospital and Siu Lam Hospital, providing health care services for a population of over a million in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long districts. Through the cluster-based service arrangements, the Hospital Authority (HA) strives to utilise the strengths of each hospital to complement the services among different hospitals within the cluster so as to ensure there is no service duplication or resources mismatch in its service planning.

     The NTWC has been granted an additional allocation of about $140 million in 2007-08 to recruit more than 400 people for opening new services including those provided by the POH and TMH Rehabilitation Block. Of the 622 acute beds provided under the POH's redevelopment project, 200 beds are already in service and the remaining 422 acute beds would be put into service by phases. The number of convalescent beds has also been increased to 135 in recent years to address the service demand.

     The HA will increase the allocation for the NTWC for the coming year to facilitate the redeveloped POH to commission more facilities and services by phases. Based on the service demand in the coming years, the NTWC will work out the schedule of commissioning of beds and services of the POH, including the provision of additional operating theatre and acute wards, and an increase in the number of beds for the surgery specialty and convalescent beds. If there is a continual increase in the local demand for in-patient services in future, the NTWC will make corresponding planning to cope with the needs.

(b)  The districts being served by the POH include Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai. After the commissioning of 200 acute beds in the POH, there has already been some relief to the shortage of in-patient services (particularly in the medicine specialty) and the workload of accident and emergency (A&E) service (especially that in Tuen Mun Hospital) under the NTWC. The NTWC is also strengthening its ambulatory services and rolling out various rehabilitation programmes to prevent avoidable hospitalisation and shorten patients' unnecessary hospital stay. The ambulatory services that have been launched by the POH in its various centres include ambulatory surgery, diabetes treatment, ambulatory gynaecological service, family medicine and rheumatism treatment etc. As the mode of services is gradually shifting from in-patient care to community care, it is anticipated that the demand for in-patient beds will continue to be relieved.

     In sum, the redeveloped POH will emphasise the development of ambulatory care through optimum utilisation of its advanced facilities whereas the TMH will provide a full range of specialist A&E and integrated rehabilitation services. It is believed that the services provided by the two hospitals will complement with each other to ensure that suitable and sufficient medical services are provided for residents within the cluster area (including Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai districts). The HA will review the utilisation level of the new services, their effectiveness and the health care needs of the New Territories West region for the long-term development of services. It will continue to improve its services and facilities according to the priority of service demand.

(c)  We have planned to build a new general out-patient clinic (GOPC) in Area 109, Tin Shui Wai North and are currently working with the HA and other government departments on the planning and preparatory work, which involves discussion on the construction, the future operation and financial arrangement of the new GOPC as well as its interface with other community facilities projects and services. Under the current plan, the clinic is expected to be completed and in service by 2012 at the earliest. As for the middle and long term planning, we will explore the construction of a hospital in Tin Shui Wai. We are carrying out the preliminary preparatory work on site selection and project planning in conjunction with other government departments.

Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Issued at HKT 14:01


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