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LCQ8: Barrier free access and facilities in public hospitals and clinics

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (May 16):


     Regarding barrier free access and facilities in hospitals and clinics under the Hospital Authority (HA), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) stipulates that unless there is unjustifiable hardship in compliance with the statutory requirements, barrier free access and facilities should be provided for persons with disabilities (PWDs), but some organisations have pointed out that the Building (Planning) Regulations (Cap. 123F) (the Regulations), Design Manual: Barrier Free Access 1997 and Design Manual: Barrier Free Access 2008 (Design Manual 2008) are not applicable to government premises, whether the authorities will extend the scope of application of the Regulations to require all hospitals and clinics under HA to provide barrier free access and facilities;

(b) given that HA has been reviewing, studying and exploring the feasibility of improving the environment and facilities of its hospitals and clinics since 2010 with a view to achieving the requirements of the Design Manual 2008, whether it knows the latest results and progress of such efforts; and

(c) whether it has comprehensively assessed if the relevant medical facilities in HA's hospitals and clinics are suitable for PWDs to use; if it has, of the assessment results; if not, whether it will conduct the relevant assessment, and discuss with the concerned groups for the rights of PWDs to understand their needs and make improvement accordingly?



(a) Under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487), it is unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities (PWDs) in relation to the provision of means of access to any premises that the public is entitled to enter or use.  This Ordinance also applies to existing and newly constructed buildings.  Like other private facilities, public bodies such as the Hospital Authority (HA) must ensure that their facilities are in compliance with the statutory or design requirements on the provision of barrier free facilities under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, the Buildings Ordinance (Cap.123) and the Design Manual. The Equal Opportunities Commission, being the independent statutory body for the enforcement of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, will follow up complaints about barrier free facilities, including those against facilities of public institutions.  This is to ensure that the premises which will be used and accessed by PWDs in general provide accessible facilities for PWDs in a non-discriminatory manner.  Public views on the access and facilities in HA's hospitals or clinics can be forwarded to the Public Complaint Management Officer of the HA Head Office or the Patient Relations Officers of various hospitals/institutions.  

     HA embraces the spirit of barrier free access and endeavours to create a barrier free environment for PWDs in its hospitals and clinics.  All newly constructed facilities and those with major renovation designed and completed after December 2008 have adopted the requirements as set out in the "Design Manual: Barrier Free Access 2008" (Design Manual 2008). For other existing facilities, HA is progressively incorporating the requirements while ensuring that disruption to patients and daily services is minimised.  

(b) Since 2010, HA has been conducting a thorough review to study the feasibility of improving its hospitals and clinics, with a view to achieving the requirements of the Design Manual 2008. This review has been taking place in three phases, with the first phase covering all general outpatient clinics (GOPCs), and the second all acute hospitals with accident and emergency (A&E) services.  These two phases have been completed.  HA will complete the third phase of the review, which covers the remaining public hospitals, within 2012.

     On barrier free access improvement works, HA's GOPCs have been given priority in this regard because of their high patient volume in relatively confined floor areas.  HA has completed barrier free access improvement works for 18 GOPCs at a cost of around $5 million, and similar improvement works will be carried out in 2012-13 for another 14 clinics at an estimated cost of around $4 million.  HA plans to complete works of all remaining GOPCs by the end of 2014.  As for public hospitals, HA has completed preliminary assessments on the 16 public hospitals with A&E departments.  Barrier free access improvement works will be arranged for these hospitals according to the situation of individual hospitals without affecting their daily operation.  HA expects that the improvement works of the 16 hospitals will be completed by the end of 2014 and those of the remaining hospitals will be completed by the end of 2016.

(c) HA has all along closely monitored the latest international research and development in medical facilities and strived to promote modernisation of medical facilities.  HA also updates and replaces medical equipment in its hospitals and clinics regularly to enhance the service quality and ensure that patients are given the most appropriate treatment.  The medical facilities used by HA are suitable for people of varying physical and health conditions and are operated by qualified staff.  If necessary, patients will use such equipment under the supervision of the relevant staff.  Besides, HA has been maintaining communication with PWDs and the relevant groups to ensure that the medical services provided can cater for the needs of various patients.

Ends/Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:54


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