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LCQ16: Medical services of Prince of Wales Hospital

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (February 12):


     It has been reported that according to the latest report on the Surgical Outcomes Monitoring and Improvement Programme released by the Hospital Authority (HA), the performance of Prince of Wales Hospital (PWH) in respect of urgent surgeries has been rated as unsatisfactory, with the actual death rate of the patients concerned being higher than the expected death rate. Analyses of HA revealed that the aforesaid situation might have been related to the low percentage of patients being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward after they had undergone urgent surgeries, which affected the post-surgery care for such patients. It has also been reported that some surgeons considered the use of beds in the ICU of PWH to be unsatisfactory, and it was heard that some patients of PWH had died as a result of not being offered intensive care. They also opined that the effect of the proposal to add more high dependency beds to the surgical wards, as put forth in the report, would be minimal for addressing the problem of shortage of hospital beds. However, the phase two redevelopment plan (the redevelopment plan) of PWH has been much protracted because the relevant technical studies will not commence until the third quarter of this year, and the funding proposal will only be submitted, in July next year the earliest, to the meeting of the Government's Resource Allocation Exercise. In connection with the healthcare services of PWH, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as some healthcare personnel have reflected the view that quite a number of departments of PWH have high bed occupancy rates (in particular the medical wards, with an occupancy rate once reaching 130%), but the commencement date for the redevelopment plan of PWH is still uncertain, whether the Government knows if HA will, in the light of the prolonged overcrowding in the wards of PWH, take measures to strive for commencing the studies concerned in the second quarter of this year so that the funding proposal can be submitted in time in July this year; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether it knows if HA will take other measures to commence the redevelopment plan expeditiously so as to address the prolonged problem of insufficient hospital beds in PWH; if HA will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as some healthcare personnel have pointed out that the quality of the healthcare services has been affected by the problems of manpower shortage and insufficient number of hospital beds in PWH, and therefore PWH should concurrently enhance its healthcare manpower and increase the number of hospital beds, whether it knows if HA has assessed the long-term needs for the healthcare services of PWH; if it has, of the details, and whether HA will take any specific measure to ensure that PWH will appropriately co-ordinate its planning for human resources and the development of facilities so that these two areas will complement each other to cope with the increase in the demand for healthcare services; if HA will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     With a gross floor area of 71 500 square meters, the new building constructed in the phase one redevelopment project of the Prince of Wales Hospital (PWH) was opened in late 2010 to provide a better hospital environment for patients. The original proposal for the phase two redevelopment project of PWH was to demolish Staff Blocks A, C and D and the lecture hall of the nursing school for the construction of a new block and provision of sufficient clinical space and facilities in compliance with the current design and standards.

     In light of the relevant government departments' latest projection of population growth and expected changes in demographic structure in the New Territories East, as well as the increasing demand for medical services in the cluster, the Hospital Authority (HA) will conduct comprehensive clinical services planning for the New Territories East (NTE) Cluster in 2014, including the review of the content of the phase two redevelopment project of PWH.

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

(1) and (2) Mainly aimed at renewing the dilapidated and outdated medical facilities, the original proposal for the phase two redevelopment project of PWH did not include the provision of additional beds. However, in light of the latest projection of population growth and expected demographic changes in the NTE Cluster (including Sha Tin, Tai Po and the North District), the HA needs to re-define the clinical services plan for the phase two redevelopment project of PWH, with consideration given to increasing the number of beds and expanding in-patient and ambulatory services to alleviate the shortage of acute beds in the district and shorten the waiting time for in-patient admission, so as to meet the long-term medical services demand of the district. Factors to be considered include the pace of population growth and ageing, changes in service models, advancement in medical technology and new developments in medical services. The HA will work out detail scope of the phase two redevelopment project based on the clinical services plan so as to conduct the technical feasibility study and draw up an overall development plan for PWH. It is expected that the services planning and technical feasibility study will be completed in the first half of 2015. We will then seek funding approval in accordance with the established procedures, with a view to implementing the phase two redevelopment project of PWH as soon as possible.

(3) In the face of manpower shortage and consistently high occupancy rate in recent years, PWH has put in place a number of measures to improve the service quality.

     Take Accident and Emergency (A&E) service as an example, PWH is continuing its effort to actively recruit doctors to fill the vacancies in the A&E Department, and will flexibly deploy healthcare personnel to support the A&E service when necessary. At present, staff have been deployed from other departments (such as the Department of Family Medicine) to the A&E Department, part-time doctors have been recruited and support has been sought from doctors who are willing to work extra shifts or sessions through the Special Honorarium Scheme. PWH has also increased the A&E Nurse Clinic sessions to seven days a week. Non-emergency and mild trauma cases will be treated by nurse specialists so that doctors could attend to patients in critical condition. At the same time, psychiatric consultation will be provided at the A&E Department for patients with mental health problems to facilitate timely assessment and early intervention so as to reduce unnecessary admissions.

     In addition, PWH plans to provide 50 additional medical beds and a haematological oncology ward in 2014-15 to relieve the pressure on services. It will also increase service sessions of the operation theatres and endoscopy examination to meet service demand.

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:16


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