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Speech by CS at Opening Ceremony of Hospital Authority Convention 2014 (English only)(with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of the Hospital Authority Convention 2014 this morning (May 7):

Honourable Vice Minister Sun (Zhigang), Professor John Leong, distinguished guests, speakers, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you today at the Hospital Authority Convention 2014. As a former member of the Hospital Authority (HA) Board, it is particularly gratifying for me to witness the growing significance of this annual occasion in our healthcare calendar. I suppose not many of you in the audience will recall that I was a member of the HA Board, because this happened over a decade ago. But for those who do remember, like Dr C H Leong, I might not be a very popular HA Board member, because I was representing the Government's Treasury Branch to sit on the HA, and my role then was to keep on reminding the Board that public resources were always limited. There simply wasn't "more and more" to be given to the HA Board, as the HA Chairman would like to see. But I was confident then and I am also very confident today, that whatever public resource is given to the HA, they have achieved value for money for the people of Hong Kong. So, thank you very much, HA.

     I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organising committee for putting together this year's Convention. On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you, in particular to all our guests from the Mainland and overseas.

     Similar to many developed and developing economies, Hong Kong is facing the challenge of an ageing population and rising expectations for better healthcare services. I am indeed leading a steering committee to look at various population-related issues. We are well aware of the pressing need to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in Hong Kong to cope with the rising service demand. On this front, the Government has made and will continue to make substantial investment in the public hospital sector to enhance both its hardware and its software, such that it will remain the cornerstone of Hong Kong's healthcare system and provide a safety net for all of us.

     In 2014-15, and provided the current filibuster will end soon, the Government's recurrent subvention to the Hospital Authority amounts to HK$47.2 billion, representing an increase of 46.6 per cent from HK$32.2 billion compared to five years ago (2009-10). The Government has also been separately funding a major capital works programme for the Hospital Authority. Projects in the pipeline include the expansion and redevelopment of the United Christian Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital and Kwai Chung Hospital, as well as the development of major new facilities like the Hong Kong Children's Hospital, North Lantau Hospital and Tin Shui Wai Hospital. The estimated total cost of these projects alone is HK$56 billion, which is in addition to many ongoing hospital improvement works. We have also commenced the strategic planning of a new acute hospital in the Kai Tak Development Area in order to meet the long-term healthcare needs arising from the changing demographics of the Kowloon region.

     Hardware and resources aside, it is our world class and highly professional and dedicated team of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and supporting staff in the Hospital Authority that we most treasure, rely on and take pride in.

     The Hospital Authority has been facing an acute shortage of manpower in the past years. The Government has redoubled its effort to address this manpower shortage issue. With the aid of a sophisticated computer model developed by the University of Hong Kong, the Food and Health Bureau is currently conducting a strategic review of Hong Kong's long-term need for different disciplines of healthcare professionals, to meet the growing demand of an ageing population. In the meantime, we have increased our university medical students intake from 250 in 2008/09 to 320 in 2009/10 and further to 420 from 2012/13 onwards. We expect that the doctor shortage problem in the Hospital Authority will start to ease with the first batch of increased intake graduating this summer. We are also working closely with the Medical Council and the two universities to consider what we can do to facilitate and attract more overseas medical graduates, especially Hong Kong students graduating and practising abroad, to come back to serve Hong Kong. We have also pledged to give the Hospital Authority full support and facilitation for measures that can help ease its short-term, and long-term as well, manpower shortage problem.

     While these new measures demonstrate the Government's resolve to increase healthcare manpower supply in the long term, it will take time for the effect to be felt. I must give my compliments to our dedicated Hospital Authority colleagues. They have not only done their utmost to cope with the heavy workload and strive to provide high quality patient care in tandem with modern medical advancement; most impressive of all, they have gone an extra mile to ensure our preparedness for the threats of emerging infectious diseases, protect the safety of our community and serve patients with special needs. Their hard work during the winter flu season when service demand hit a record high, their support rendered after the unfortunate Egyptian air balloon accident and their vigilance in preventing and managing challenges from H7N9 incidents are but a few examples manifesting the great dedication and selflessness of our healthcare teams in sacrificing their own time for serving the public.

     For 20 years, the Hospital Authority Convention has brought together the greatest minds from the healthcare and medical industry all over the world and fostered professional exchanges. I am very glad to see that this year's Convention has an extensive programme composing of different Special Topic sessions, Masterclasses and Plenary Sessions on the topics of People-centred Care, Professional Service, Committed Staff and Teamwork. I am sure the Convention can serve as an invaluable platform for experts and colleagues to share ideas and showcase the healthcare professionalism and development in the Hospital Authority. Through the active participation of renowned and experienced practitioners and researchers in the coming days, the healthcare industry as a whole would no doubt benefit from this Convention.

     Before closing, let me express, once again, my sincere gratitude to everyone here for your dedication and devotion to the betterment of the healthcare of Hong Kong and worldwide. May I also take this opportunity to wish those who have travelled afar to join us a wonderful experience and a very pleasant stay in Hong Kong. Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:48


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