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LCQ6: Development of private hospitals

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Chan Mo-po and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (June 6):


     In April this year, the Government invited both local and overseas tenders for the development of private hospitals at two sites in Wong Chuk Hang and Tai Po, so as to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in Hong Kong and to cope with the increasing service demand.  To ensure that the services of the new hospitals are of good quality and will help develop the medical industry, the Government has stipulated a set of special requirements in the tender documents.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  apart from considering if the new hospitals are able to meet the set of special requirements in the tender documents, the quality of the service provision and the tender premiums, whether it has other factors (e.g. whether the new hospitals are universities' affiliated teaching hospitals) to consider; if it has, of the details;

(b) whether the Government has assessed the impact of the private hospitals to be developed at the two sites on the healthcare manpower in public hospitals in the next decade; if it has, of the details; if not, how the service quality of public hospitals can be maintained; and

(c) apart from considering the responses to and experience of this tender exercise following its closure in July this year, whether the Government has other factors to consider in deciding the detailed land disposal arrangement for the remaining two sites reserved for private hospital development; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     There are currently a total of 39 public and 12 private hospitals in Hong Kong, providing around 27 000 and 4 000 beds respectively as at the end of 2011.  Over 90% of the in-patient services in Hong Kong are provided by public hospitals, the services for which are subsidised at a rate as high as 95%.  This has over the years resulted in an imbalance between the public and private healthcare sectors and has limited the competition and collaboration between the two sectors.  There are also limited choices for patients who may want a greater choice of hospital services and can afford more than public fees.

     Public healthcare services have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of our healthcare system, acting as the healthcare safety net for all and remaining strong and robust through continued investment and commitment from the Government.

     To complement this public system, it is our policy to facilitate private hospital development to address the imbalance between the public and private sectors in hospital services.  To meet the challenges posed by the ageing population, rising medical costs and increasing demand for healthcare services, we need to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in Hong Kong.  In addition to our continued efforts to strengthen and increase the service capacity of our public healthcare, it is in line with the development in this direction to facilitate private hospital development so as to enable the public to have more choices and to have access to affordable high quality private hospital services.

     In this connection, the Government has reserved four sites respectively at Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po and Lantau for private hospital development.  We first put out the two sites at Wong Chuk Hang and Tai Po for open tender on April 13, 2012.

     My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) To ensure that the tendering exercise is carried out in a fair, just and open manner, details of all requirements for the tender exercises of the two sites at Wong Chuk Hang and Tai Po are set out in the tender documents.  We hope that the new hospitals can give priority to serving the local residents so that Hong Kong residents can have more choices in accessing affordable and quality private healthcare services with price transparency.  For this reason, we have stipulated a set of service requirements in the tender documents, such as the number of beds to be provided, the commissioning date of the new hospitals, the types of specialty services to be provided by the hospitals, the maximum number of beds used for obstetrics services, provision of services to local residents and services to be provided at packaged charge, etc. so as to ensure that the services provided by the new hospitals would be of good quality to cater for the public needs and enhance the local healthcare service standard.  In the selection of tenderers, we also require all tenderers to have certain experience in operating or managing a hospital so as to ensure that the successful tenderers have the capability to implement the development plan of the new hospitals.  Such a requirement has been set out in the tender documents.  For example, we require that more than half of the directors or partners of the tenderers must have at least three years' experience, from 2006 to 2011, in managing or operating a hospital in Hong Kong or overseas.

     The current tender exercises are conducted openly.  All parties (including Faculties of Medicine of the universities) are welcome to participate as long as they meet the requirements set out in the tender documents.

(b) In view of the manpower requirements for healthcare professionals, for the three years starting from 2012, the Government will allocate an addition of $200 million to increase the number of first-year first-degree places in medicine by 100 to 420 per year, nursing by 40 and allied health professional by 146.

     We understand the importance of a long-term healthcare manpower planning to ensure the healthy and sustainable development of our healthcare system.  As such, we have set up a Steering Committee, chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health, to conduct a strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development so as to assess the manpower demand of various healthcare professions.  To assist the Steering Committee in obtaining the necessary information, we have commissioned the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong to provide professional advice and technical support for the strategic review.  The University of Hong Kong will conduct, by scientific and objective methods, a comprehensive manpower projection for healthcare professions covered in the strategic review.

     In making long-term manpower projections, we will take into account the anticipated manpower requirements of major healthcare providers having regard to, among other things, the wastage trends of different healthcare professions, the ageing rate of the population and changes in demographic profiles, and the community's need for services in particular areas, etc.  The Government will also take into consideration the implications on healthcare manpower arising from changes in healthcare services delivery models and related policies such as development of private hospitals and primary care services and the introduction of the Health Protection Scheme, etc.  The Steering Committee will assess manpower needs in the various healthcare professions and put forward recommendations on how to cope with anticipated demand for healthcare manpower, strengthen professional training and facilitate professional development having regard to the findings of the strategic review, with a view to ensuring the healthy and sustainable development of Hong Kong's healthcare system.  We expect to complete the review by the first half of 2013.

(c) The invitation of tenders for the two sites at Wong Chuk Hang and Tai Po reserved for private hospital development will close on July 27, 2012.  Taking into account the time required for evaluating in parallel the tender submissions received for both exercises, we expect to announce the tender results in early 2013.  We will consider the timing and arrangements for the disposal of the other two reserved hospital sites at Tseung Kwan O and Lantau, having regard to factors such as the market responses and experience from these two tender exercises, as well as the progress of site formation at the reserved sites.

Ends/Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:45


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