Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ19: Pharmaceutical services of public hospitals

     Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):


     I have recently received complaints from members of the public about the long waiting time for collecting medicine from the dispensaries of public hospitals.  A member of the public waited for two hours and 45 minutes before he could collect three sachets of ordinary cold medicine and a bottle of cough syrup.  The member of the public said that according to his observation, the dispensary staff did not slacken their efforts or grumble about heavy workload, and the problem was not due to the staff, but the shortage of manpower.  Regarding the allocation of sufficient manpower by the Hospital Authority (HA) to various dispensaries of public hospitals to address the issue of manpower shortage, and to cater the increasing demand of the public on public healthcare services, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the current staff establishments of various dispensaries of public hospitals;

(b) given the huge fiscal surpluses of the Government in recent years, whether the Government has any plan to allocate additional resources to HA in order to increase the manpower of the dispensaries of public hospitals; if it has, of the details; and

(c) whether it has any plan to increase the number of university places for training pharmacists, or admit from foreign countries pharmacists who meet the healthcare standards of Hong Kong; if it has, of the details?



     The Hospital Authority (HA) is committed to ensuring the efficiency of pharmaceutical and dispensing services.  At present, the average waiting time of patients at HA's specialist out-patient clinics for drug dispensing services is about 30 to 45 minutes.  During peak hours, the waiting time for drug dispensing services may be longer.  However, cases in which patients have to wait for two hours or more are rare.

(a) As at the end of 2011, the pharmacy manpower strength of the seven clusters under HA is as follows:

Clusters                Number of     Number of
--------               pharmacists   dispensers
                       -----------   ----------
Hong Kong East              48           122
Hong Kong West              49           108
Kowloon Central             47           124
Kowloon East                36           112
Kowloon West               100           236
New Territories East        56           167
New Territories West        39           116
Total                      375           985

(b) To enhance the quality of pharmaceutical services of public hospitals and improve medication safety for patients, the Government has allocated additional resources to HA in recent years for enhancement of the pharmaceutical services of public hospitals and clinics, including increasing the number of pharmacists at general out-patient clinics.  Over the past two years, HA has recruited 140 additional pharmacy staff.  In the coming year, HA plans to recruit about 100 additional pharmacy staff.  HA will continue to deploy its manpower with flexibility and implement appropriate measures, taking into account the daily operational and service needs, with a view to providing the public with safe and reliable pharmaceutical services and efficient dispensing services.

(c) Currently, the pharmacy programme of the Chinese University of Hong Kong is accredited by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong (the Board) for training of pharmacists.  Graduates of the programme can be registered as pharmacists in Hong Kong after completing one-year pharmacy internship training and passing the relevant assessment.

     The University of Hong Kong launched a new Bachelor of Pharmacy programme in 2009 and is applying to the Board for accreditation of the programme.  The accreditation process is at the final stage.  If the programme is accredited by the Board, more than 50 graduates of the degree programmes on pharmacy offered by the two universities each year can be registered as pharmacists in Hong Kong after completing one-year pharmacy internship training and passing the assessment.

     Apart from local graduates, those who have studied pharmacy outside Hong Kong can also enroll in the Pharmacist Registration Examination organised by the Board if they meet the following criteria:
(1) have completed their tertiary education of not less than three full-time academic years, or equivalent, in pharmacy;

(2) have registered or be professionally qualified to be registered as a pharmacist in the country in which they have completed their education in pharmacy; and

(3) have had relevant pre-registration training and/or post-registration experience for an aggregate period of not less than one year in the country in which they have completed their education in pharmacy or in another country.

     At present, the Pharmacist Registration Examination is held twice a year, in June and December respectively.  There are three subjects in the Examination, namely "Pharmacy Legislation in Hong Kong", "Pharmacy Practice" and "Pharmacology".  Applicants who have passed all three subjects can be registered as pharmacists in Hong Kong.  The average passing rate for the three subjects is about 48% in 2011.  In 2007-2011, nearly 300 overseas graduates passed the three subjects and were approved by the Board for registration as pharmacists in Hong Kong.

     Currently, the recruitment and manpower supply of pharmacists is satisfactory relative to that of other grades in the public healthcare system.  HA will continue to ensure that there is sufficient manpower for the pharmaceutical and dispensing services and make appropriate arrangements in manpower planning and deployment to cope with the service needs.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:22


Print this page