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LCQ10: Public primary care services in Tin Shui Wai

    Following is a question by the Dr Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (November 23):


     At present, the New Territories West (NTW) has a population of about two million, and the development of Tin Shui Wai (TSW) in that region is particularly rapid, resulting in an increasing demand for healthcare services from the residents in that area.  Yet, it will be quite a long time before the planned TSW Hospital will be completed.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective population figures in the various districts in NTW; whether it knows the numbers of attendances of the various public out-patient clinics in NTW in each of the past three years, and among them, the respective numbers of attendances of the TSW North General Out-Patient Clinic and the TSW Health Centre respectively; whether the authorities have assessed if these two clinics can cope with the service demand from the residents in that area;

(b) given that the TSW Hospital has not yet been completed and the public out-patient services in TSW are normally available until 10 pm only, whether it knows if the Hospital Authority (HA) will consider introducing 24-hour public out-patient services in TSW, so as to meet the needs of the residents there; if HA will do so, of the details, if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether, according to the latest assessment by the authorities, the needs of the residents in the area can be fully met after the completion of TSW Hospital; and whether there is any plan to provide other healthcare services in the area so as to cope with the demand?  


(a) The Planning Department's information shows that the New Territories West Cluster (NTWC) of the Hospital Authority (HA) currently covers about 1.06 million population, of which about 560 000 are in the Yuen Long District and close to 500 000 in the Tuen Mun District.  HA has within the NTWC four public hospitals including the Tuen Mun Hospital and the Pok Oi Hospital, eight general out-patient clinics (GOPCs), four family medicine specialist clinics (FMSCs) and four specialist out-patient clinics (SOPCs).  The number of attendances recorded for these services over the past three years is tabulated in annex.

     Public general out-patient services are primarily targeted at the low income and underprivileged groups, including the chronically ill, poor and frail or disabled elders, and low income families.  At present, public general out-patient services in Tin Shui Wai are mainly provided by the Tin Shui Wai Health Centre located on Tin Shui Road.  As a transitional measure to cope with service need in the district, HA has set up one temporary consultation room inside the Pok Oi Hospital Chinese Medicine Clinic in Tin Wah Estate as the Tin Shui Wai North General Out-patient Clinic since 2006.  The two GOPCs together provide about 165 000 attendances of general out-patient services annually over the past three financial years.

     To further enhance public primary care services in Tin Shui Wai, HA has implemented the "Tin Shui Wai Primary Care Partnership Project" since June 2008, under which patients suffering from specific chronic diseases with stable medical conditions in need of follow-up treatment at the Tin Shui Wai GOPCs can opt to receive out-patient services from private medical practitioners (PMPs) in the district.  The Project has now been extended to the entire Tin Shui Wai area, with 10 PMPs and over 1 600 patients enrolled in the programme.

     According to HA's statistics, nearly 90% of the target users of general out-patient services, including elders, recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and medical fee waivers, are able to secure a consultation timeslot at the two GOPCs mentioned above through HA's Telephone Appointment Service System.  Public GOPCs aside, there are over 30 PMPs in Tin Shui Wai providing convenient out-patient services to the community.

(b) Patients under the care of HA's GOPCs mainly comprise chronic disease patients with stable medical conditions (such as patients with diabetes mellitus or hypertension) and episodic disease patients with relatively mild symptoms (such as those suffering from flu, cold, fever or gastroenteritis).  For chronic disease patients, they will be assigned a timeslot for the next consultation in advance without having to make separate appointments.  Enhanced support is also provided to chronic disease patients through a series of chronic diseases management programmes implemented by HA.  For episodic disease patients, consultation timeslots in the next 24 hours are available for booking through HA's Telephone Appointment Service System.

     As emergency cases normally require the support of specialty and other related services in hospitals, acute patients in genuine need of immediate medical attention should go to the accident and emergency departments of hospitals for triage of cases and treatment and support according to their needs.  GOPCs are not equipped for the provision of emergency services, and extending general out-patient services to late evening hours or round-the-clock is not cost-effective and would not be efficient use of general out-patient resources.  The Administration has no plan at this juncture to set up general out-patients services at late evening hours or round-the-clock.

(c)  HA provides services on a cluster basis.  For planning and provision of appropriate services to the community, each cluster will take into account relevant considerations including the demographic profiles of the district, residents' mode of service consumption and the service areas of the underpinning hospitals.  Hospitals within the same cluster are assigned separate roles to complement and support each other in the delivery of services.

     To cope with the increasing demand for healthcare services arising from population growth in the NTWC including Tin Shui Wai, the Administration is taking forward the plan to develop the Tin Shui Wai Hospital as a community hospital in the area.  Expected for completion in 2016, the Tin Shui Wai Hospital will provide an additional 260 beds for the NTWC and in-patient services including emergency medicine, rehabilitation, convalescent and palliative care.  Upon commissioning, the Tin Shui Wai Hospital will collaborate with the Pok Oi Hospital and the Tuen Mun Hospital of the NTWC to provide appropriate hospital services to the community.

     On the primary care front, the first community health centre (CHC) in the territory designed according to the primary care development strategy and service model situated on Tin Yip Road in Tin Shui Wai is scheduled for commissioning in the first half of 2012 to provide integrated and comprehensive primary care services.  The existing Tin Shui Wai North General Out-patient Clinic will be relocated to the Tin Shui Wai CHC.  The new Tin Shui Wai CHC, together with the existing Tin Shui Wai Health Centre, are expected to provide over 200 000 attendances of general out-patient services for the area per annum.  The CHC will also provide nurse and allied health and other primary care support services as appropriate to meet the need of the local community.

Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:30


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