2010-11 Policy Address by Chief Executive (8)

Public Healthcare Services

Upgrading Services

75. The current-term Government has pledged to increase public health expenditure and to enhance healthcare services.  The additional resources allocated for this purpose over the past few years reached a total of $13.7 billion.  The Government will continue to work towards the objective of increasing healthcare spending to 17% of the Governments recurrent expenditure by 2012.  We will endeavour to reduce the waiting time for specialist services, including cataract surgery, joint replacement, mental health assessment and consultation services for children and adolescents, magnetic resonance imaging and computerised tomography scanning.  We will also strengthen the services for cancer patients, and add more new and effective drugs to the Drug Formulary.

76. In addition, we are actively preparing for the establishment of a multi-partite paediatric medical centre with more than 400 beds at the Kai Tak Development Area.  Meanwhile, to meet the increasing demand for healthcare services in Tin Shui Wai, we have decided to build a new hospital in the area to provide accident and emergency services, in-patient services and ambulatory and community care services for local residents.  We also plan to redevelop the four hospital blocks at Yan Chai Hospital to enhance the services.  These three projects are expected to be completed in 2016.

Training for Healthcare Workers

77. We expect a substantial increase in the demand for healthcare practitioners, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, radiotherapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.  We will ensure an adequate supply of healthcare personnel for the provision of services through various measures, which include encouraging tertiary institutions to increase student places for these disciplines and strengthening training programmes provided by the Hospital Authority.  

Healthcare Financing

78. In view of our ageing population and rising medical costs, the public generally believes that the Government needs to enhance the sustainability of the healthcare system, but has reservations about introducing any supplementary healthcare financing scheme of a mandatory nature at this stage.  Public opinion largely favours voluntary participation in private health insurance.  

79. To further the healthcare reform, the Food and Health Bureau has put forward proposals for a voluntary Health Protection Scheme in the second stage public consultation just launched.  The objective of the scheme is to provide the public with wider choices and better protection through government-regulated private health insurance and healthcare services. The Government will consider using the $50 billion earmarked for supporting healthcare reform to provide incentives for the public to join the scheme early, and subsidise the future healthcare protection of participants.  

Regulation of Pharmaceutical Products

80. In the coming years, we will strengthen the regulatory regime of Chinese and Western medicines.  We are implementing all 75 recommendations of the Review Committee on Regulation of Pharmaceutical Products in Hong Kong.  The legislation on proprietary Chinese medicines will come into effect in phases from the end of this year.  We will actively engage the industry to work out a timetable for mandatory compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practice for the manufacture of proprietary Chinese medicines.

The Underprivileged

Rehabilitation Services

81. To meet the increasing demand for rehabilitation services, the Government will provide additional places for pre-school, day and residential rehabilitation services.  We will put in place other measures to enhance services, including continuing to implement the Pilot Scheme on Home Care Service for Persons with Severe Disabilities and preparing for the introduction of a licensing scheme for residential care homes for people with disabilities.
Assistance to Autistic Children

82. We will endeavour to provide early identification, assessment and treatment for autistic children to ensure that they receive appropriate care and support during their development.

83. On healthcare services, to enhance our support for more autistic children, the Hospital Authority will strengthen the professional team comprising child psychiatrists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, nurses, speech therapists and occupational therapists.  They will also provide parents and carers of autistic children with more information to enhance their understanding of autism and the treatment needs of these children.

84. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) will increase places for pre-school early intervention service and training for autistic children. The SWD's medical social services will also be strengthened to dovetail with the services of the Hospital Authority.

85. On the education front, a pilot scheme will be launched in ordinary primary and secondary schools to improve autistic students' communication, emotion management and learning skills to facilitate their studies.

Mental Health Services

86. Last year, I proposed to set up district-based Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness across the territory.  This new mode of service delivery has been implemented in all 18 districts, providing integrated services ranging from prevention to crisis management.  We will strengthen the manpower of these centres to handle more cases.  Furthermore, we will enhance our psychiatric medical social services to provide assistance to people with mental health problems.  

87. Among these centres, only one has secured permanent accommodation while the others are currently providing services at temporary accommodation.  I call upon district leaders and residents to show more understanding and support so that the service operators can secure permanent accommodation.

88. The Hospital Authority will roll out its case management programme in five more districts in the coming year to provide intensive community support for patients with severe mental illness.  Separately, the Hospital Authority will expand the Integrated Mental Health Programme for patients with common mental disorders to cover all clusters.  The Early Assessment and Detection of Young Persons with Psychosis Programme will be expanded to cover adults.  The Hospital Authority will gradually strengthen its geriatric outreach services in the next three years, covering about 80 more residential care homes for the elderly next year.

89. To improve treatment outcome, the Hospital Authority will use more new psychiatric drugs with proven effectiveness and fewer side effects.

Child Care Services

90. I have visited a Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project run by a local women's association in Tin Shui Wai to see for myself its operation.  I am glad to learn that the project has achieved the objectives of both fostering mutual help in the neighbourhood and providing flexible child care services.  The Government has therefore decided to extend the coverage of the project from the current 11 districts to all 18 to benefit more families in need.  

91. Currently, the Comprehensive Child Development Service enables the early identification of pregnant women, mothers and children in need, and their referral to suitable health or welfare service units for follow-up and support services.  We plan to extend the service to all 18 districts.  

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 11:59