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LCQ13: Medical Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Priscilla Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (July 4):


     The Chief Executive of the last term announced as early as in his 2007-2008 Policy Address the initiative to study the establishment of a multi-partite Medical Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics (the Centre).  The Government has started preparation for the establishment of the Centre since 2008 and set up a steering committee to provide policy directions for the Centre.  A site in the Kai Tak Development Area has been identified as the final location of the Centre, and construction works are planned to commence next year and are scheduled to be completed in 2017.  The Centre will come into service by phases starting from mid-2018.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the Centre is expected to offer 468 beds and will be interfaced with 13 public hospitals with paediatric departments in Hong Kong to provide tertiary paediatric services, of the estimated number of sick children the Centre can serve in the first three years upon its commissioning; to what extent the Centre will relieve the public demand for paediatric services in public hospitals at present; whether the authorities have any plan as to when a review of the services of the Centre (including a study on whether addition of beds or expansion is necessary) will be conducted; if there is no such plan, of the reasons for that;

(b) given that mainland pregnant women have come incessantly to give birth in Hong Kong in recent years, if the authorities have assessed whether the future demand for paediatric services in Hong Kong will be affected by the increasing number of children born locally but whose parents are non-permanent residents of Hong Kong (doubly non-permanent resident children), and whether corresponding planning for the Centre is necessary; if the assessment results reveal that paediatric services will be affected, how the future services of the Centre will cater for the increase in the number of doubly non-permanent resident children; if assessment has not been made, of the reasons for that; and

(c) given that it has been learnt that there is a shortage of manpower supply in quite a number of public hospitals at present, whether the authorities have assessed if the establishment of the Centre will create further pressure on local healthcare manpower; if they have, of the results of the assessment, and the authorities' corresponding measures in place?


     In the 2007-08 Policy Address, the Government announced that it would study the establishment of a Medical Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics (CEP) to further enhance the quality of paediatric services in Hong Kong.  The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) has set up a Steering Committee since 2008 comprising renowned medical and healthcare professionals from the public and private sectors, academics, patient groups and non-government organisations to study the scope of services, mode of operation and physical infrastructure of the CEP.  After thorough deliberation, it was decided that the CEP will locate at the South Apron of the Kai Tak Development.  The CEP will adopt a new multi-partite approach to bring together experts in the public, private and academic sectors from both within and outside Hong Kong and enhance collaboration in healthcare, research and training, so as to contribute to the long-term development of paediatrics.  

     We have, together with the Hospital Authority (HA) and the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD), consulted the Task Force on Kai Tak Harbourfront Development under the Harbourfront Commission and relevant District Councils on the proposed development of the CEP in early 2012.  We have also briefed the Legislative Council Panel on Health Services on the CEP project on March 12, 2012.

     ArchSD has invited tender for the CEP on April 13, 2012 and the tender evaluation is expected to be concluded by the first quarter of 2013.  Subject to the tender result, we will seek funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.  It is expected that the construction works will commence in mid 2013 for completion by late 2017, and the CEP will commence services by phases starting from mid 2018.

     My replies to various parts of the question are as follows:

(a) HA has conducted in-depth reviews on the existing paediatric services of public hospitals.  The roles of and partnership between the CEP and hospitals in various clusters have been defined.  To this end, the CEP will mainly provide tertiary specialist services for children under the age of 18 with serious and complex illnesses throughout the territory; whilst public hospitals with paediatric departments will continue to provide acute paediatric services, secondary care services and community care in their respective communities.  This model can link up primary, secondary and tertiary paediatric services more effectively, thereby establishing a well-coordinated and connected paediatric service network.  As mentioned above, the CEP is planned to commence services by phases starting from mid 2018, with details being worked out.  In general, we anticipate that the CEP will help enhance the quality of local paediatric services and relieve service pressure on hospitals in various clusters.

     HA will keep in view from time to time the demand for paediatric services to meet the community needs and enhance the quality of paediatric services.  There is still some time before the commissioning of the CEP and we will conduct timely service reviews in light of the community needs and situation, as well as the experience gained after the operation of the CEP, so as to ensure that paediatric patients can receive adequate healthcare services.

(b) In planning for the services of various paediatric subspecialties, HA takes into account the population projection by the Census and Statistics Department as well as statistics on the cases of severe illness (e.g. childhood cancer, heart disease and kidney failure, etc.).  At present, babies born to Mainland women in Hong Kong are Hong Kong residents (i.e. eligible persons) and entitled to use subvented public healthcare services at HA's hospitals, including the CEP.  In planning for the services of the CEP, HA has also taken into account the demand for paediatric services from these newborn babies.  As HA has announced that it will stop admitting non-local pregnant women in this and next year and that private hospitals will stop admitting Mainland pregnant women whose spouses are non-Hong Kong permanent residents next year, the demand for paediatric services from these children will hopefully be relieved.  We estimate that the number of beds and the comprehensive services of paediatric subspecialties and relevant specialties at the CEP will be sufficient to meet the demand for tertiary paediatric services in future.

(c) In planning for the provision of public healthcare services, HA takes into account a number of factors, including the projected demand for healthcare services having regard to population growth and demographic changes, the growth rate of services of individual specialties and the possible changes in healthcare services utilisation pattern, etc.  Besides, HA conducts annual reviews on its manpower requirements and service growth, including plans for new hospitals and provision of additional beds, in order to provide appropriate services.  In this connection, a working group with wide representation from clinicians of different paediatric and paediatric-related subspecialties across HA and universities has been established by HA to examine and implement training issues.  In developing a training plan, HA will also take into account the current manpower shortage and the manpower needs of the future CEP.

     On the other hand, based on the outcome of the Second Stage Public Consultation on Healthcare Reform, the Government has set up the Steering Committee on Strategic Review on Healthcare Manpower Planning and Professional Development chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health to conduct a strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development in Hong Kong.  The Steering Committee will assess manpower needs in the various healthcare professions (including paediatric healthcare professionals) and formulate 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 our healthcare system.

Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:54


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