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LCQ16: Services provided by maternal and child health centres

    Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (December 19):


     In reply to my question at the Council meeting on November 2, 2005, the authorities said that they had implemented improvement measures in respect of the service workflow of and staff communication skills in the maternal and child health centres (MCHCs) of the Department of Health, and would strengthen the exchange of information with the Hospital Authority (HA). However, recently, I still received complaints from women who had just given birth that some MCHC staff were very rude and their work efficiency was low (e.g. some counter staff only responded to clients with scripted answers and spoke in a very impolite tone), and the service workflow was complicated and slow. Moreover, the women were required to fill in their particulars repeatedly and asked many times about related information on their giving birth in hospitals, which had subjected them to unnecessary pressure. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number and main contents of cases of complaints against MCHCs received by the authorities in the past two years;

(b) of the improvement measures implemented by the authorities in the past two years in respect of the operation and attitude of staff of MCHCs and their exchange of information with HA, etc.; and whether an assessment has been made to see if the above complaints reflect that such improvement measures are ineffective; if such an assessment has been made, of the results; and

(c) whether the authorities will comprehensively review the overall management structure, operation and service workflow of MCHCs, and strengthen staff training and the exchange of information with HA, and even consider putting MCHCs under the management of HA, so as to deliver a truly woman and baby-oriented service?


Madam President,

(a) In 2005 and 2006, the maternal and child health centres (MCHCs) of the Department of Health (DH) handled 209 201 and 216 818 new cases and received 61 and 100 complaints respectively. The complaints were, among others, about the performance or attitude of staff (76%), the operation of the MCHCs (13%), services failing to meet demand (8%) and the environment of the MCHCs (0.6%). The DH attaches great importance to any complaint, and the complaints are handled jointly by DH's Client Relations Unit and the Service Head of the MCHCs.

(b)&(c) The DH has been making continuous efforts to monitor and review various aspects of the service performance of the MCHCs to ensure service quality.

     As for training, the DH encourages its staff to participate in various kinds of training courses, including those on customer service, communication skills, computer application, etc. Since 2000, the DH has implemented a service improvement programme in the MCHCs. The aim is to provide quality client-oriented services to better meet the needs of their clients through mutual support and collaboration within the team. Under the programme, the DH has devised a number of measures to make improvements in various areas such as the service workflow and environment of the MCHCs. For example, to reduce waiting time and expedite service workflow, a prior appointment system has been put in place; clients are reminded to fill in their Child Health Service First Registration Form in advance; and public address systems have been installed in the MCHCs. Since November 2006, the operating hours of the telephone booking service for child health service of the MCHCs have been extended. Enquiries on bookings received outside the specified hours have also been handled with flexibility. To ease the workload of frontline staff in individual MCHCs in answering telephone enquiries, the DH has introduced a "24-hour Information Hotline on Family Health Service" manned by designated staff since January 2007. The DH will continue its efforts in further enhancing the service quality of the MCHCs through the promotion of a service improvement culture.

     As for the processing of data, parents of newborn babies seeking services at MCHCs for the first time are required to fill out a First Registration Form. The Form contains particulars of the parents and their baby, including the name of the hospital in which the baby was born and weight at birth. The DH has since March 2007 implemented a computer system for child health services in MCHCs by phases to facilitate the storage and retrieval of attendance and immunisation records of the babies. In addition, the DH is now joining hands with the Hospital Authority (HA) to study the technical details regarding the exchange of data. It is hoped that the exchange of data between the DH and the HA can be strengthened while at the same time safeguarding the privacy of personal data so that a more convenient service can be delivered to the public.

Ends/Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Issued at HKT 11:17


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