HA Convention 2013 - "Consolidating HealthcAre"

The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     Over 60 distinguished Mainland, overseas and local speakers will share their knowledge and insights, as well as interact on various health topics of interest, with 4,600 healthcare and academic professionals participating in the two-day annual Hospital Authority (HA) Convention 2013 held today and tomorrow (May 15 and 16).

     There are Plenary and Symposium sessions focusing on the Convention's main theme "Consolidating HealthcAre" and the following subthemes:
- "Sustaining Quality Healthcare Services"
- "Partnering for Healthcare"
- "Utilising Healthcare Resources"
- "Modernising Healthcare"
- "Ensuring Emergency Preparedness"
     The HA Convention 2013 was officially opened this morning by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung; the Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Mr Sun Zhigang; the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man; the HA Chairman, Mr Anthony Wu; and the HA Chief Executive, Dr Leung Pak-yin.
     In his welcoming address, Mr Wu paid tribute to HA colleagues for their impeccable and selfless dedication in fighting severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

     Mr Wu remarked that Hong Kong is a lot more equipped and prepared to fight infectious disease. "We have built an Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital. We have over 1,400 isolated beds in our public hospitals which can be put into operation within days. We have sufficient supply of medicine, protective gear and medical equipment, and we have various plans in place to fight infectious diseases and pandemics," he said.

     Mr Wu went on to appeal to different stakeholders to throw away differences and embrace the common goal in serving the community to increase the supply of medical professionals in Hong Kong.

     In addressing some recent criticisms on the HA's resource allocation, he pointed out that resource allocation is a lot more complicated than just dividing resources based on the population residing in each cluster.

     "Kowloon Central Cluster has over 60 per cent of its inpatient and specialist outpatient services used by patients from outside the cluster, including those from the Wong Tai Sin area, which has a population of 420,000 and is geographically grouped under another cluster. Queen Mary Hospital takes on complicated cases from other hospitals and over 35 per cent of its total output in 2012 was used by patients from other clusters," he said.

     Mr Wu concluded his address by highlighting that the HA had, in the last few years, engaged external consultants to conduct various reviews to pursue continuous enhancements in various areas, including, inter alia, corporate governance, structure, clinical procedures and risk management.
     Delivering his keynote speech, "Striving for the cure for healthcare challenges", Dr Leung began with outlining the growth and development of the HA in the past 22 years.

     "Through an extensive network of 41 hospitals and institutions, 47 specialist outpatient clinics and 74 general outpatient clinics, our dedicated team of more than 63,000 staff fulfil around 90 per cent of Hong Kong's secondary and tertiary medical needs using just 2.4 per cent of our city's Gross Domestic Product - a reality that is admired by governments and healthcare administrators around the globe," he said.

     He pointed out that apart from the rising volume of patients, the HA was also facing the increasing complexity of medical needs.

     "Realities such as our ageing population, the growing incidence of chronic diseases and the recurrent threat of emerging infections such as novel coronavirus and H7N9 are placing greater demands on our resources in an environment of escalating costs, rapid scientific and technological change, and rising expectations of patients and their families as regards service delivery," he said.

     Dr Leung highlighted the need to have an extra 2,600 beds to meet the projected service demand by 2021, which implied the requirement of 800 more doctors, 2,700 new nurses and 1,000 extra allied health professionals.

     "The service need will continue to escalate and we project the demand for an additional 6,600 new beds 10 years further on in 2031. We need to address all these challenges, especially manpower requirements, so as to bridge across the gap to 2031," he said.

     He pointed out that recruitment, retention and motivation of talented manpower remained one of the HA's greatest challenges.

     "Attrition rates among doctors have stabilised following the opening up of more promotion opportunities across all specialties and enhancing the honorarium scheme for doctors in departments facing acute staff shortages," Dr Leung said. He pointed out that 272 part-time doctors had been hired in the past year with an improved part-time employment scheme, adding that non-local doctors under limited registration had also been recruited for specialties in serious need.

     Dr Leung went on with the HA's efforts to improve transparency. "We started public release in April this year of waiting times for ear, nose and throat specialist outpatient services and cataract surgeries - a move that proved controversial among a number of internal and external groups," he said.

     To improve patient throughput and waiting times, Dr Leung said that new case clinics would be set up and additional doctor sessions conducted to manage an additional 13,000 specialist outpatient cases, the general outpatient clinic quota would be increased by 18,700 attendances, and the potential for expanding the cross-cluster patient referral scheme would be explored.

     In his concluding remarks, Dr Leung praised the professionalism and passionate service demonstrated by the HA staff every single day, just as they showed during the SARS outbreak 10 years ago.

     "We will continue with practical steps to support our everyday heroes by improving working conditions, increasing training opportunities and recruiting additional staff," Dr Leung said.

     He said he trusts that through the dedication of staff past and present, and the strong support of the Government and the community, the HA would accomplish more to safeguard the health and promote the well-being of the people of Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:52