LCQ15: Public healthcare services

     Following is a question by the Hon Gary Fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (October 14):


     As pointed out in the review report released by the Steering Committee on Review of Hospital Authority (HA) in July this year, there is a priority need for HA to provide additional funding for three hospital clusters, namely the New Territories East Cluster (NTEC), the New Territories West Cluster and the Kowloon East Cluster, to serve the continuously growing population in these catchment districts, and to echo the concerns expressed by hospital staff on under-provision of resources for some hospitals in the three clusters.  In addition, according to the latest report on the Surgical Outcomes Monitoring and Improvement Programme released by HA, among the 13 public hospitals which provide emergency surgeries, North District Hospital (NDH) in NTEC is the only hospital the performance of which has been rated as unsatisfactory. HA considers that the relevant outcome is related to the manpower shortage of surgeons in NDH and the increases of cross-boundary patients and elderly patients. In connection with public healthcare services, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it has any plan to consolidate the data on transient population, so as to grasp the demand of Hong Kong residents residing on the Mainland for local healthcare services; if it does, of the details;

(2) whether it knows, in each of the past five years, the respective attendances at various public hospitals of Hong Kong residents residing on the Mainland for (i) using the services of the accident and emergency departments, (ii) receiving surgical operations and (iii) staying in hospitals for treatment; if it knows, of a breakdown of the figures by hospital name and the cluster to which the hospital belongs;

(3) whether it knows, in respect of the Hong Kong residents residing on the Mainland, (i) their attendances at public general out-patient clinics to seek consultations for the first time, (ii) their attendances at these clinics to seek follow-up consultations and (iii) the number of referrals to specialist out-patient clinics made for them by these clinics, in each of the past five years; if it knows, of a breakdown of the figures by clinic name and the cluster to which the clinic belongs;

(4) given that the aforesaid review report pointed out that the Government would allocate a time-limited funding of $300 million for the next three financial years from 2015-2016 to enhance the existing services of the three aforesaid clusters, whether the authorities know the details of the allocation of such funding, including the considerations to be given to the demand of Hong Kong residents residing on the Mainland for local healthcare services in the process of resource allocation;

(5) whether it will expeditiously implement the expansion projects of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (AHNH) and NDH, so as to improve the provision of public healthcare services in New Territories East and meet the demand of Hong Kong residents residing on the Mainland for local healthcare services; and

(6) given that among the various police posts set up in the accident and emergency departments of public hospitals, only the police posts in AHNH and NDH in NTEC do not operate round the clock, whether the authorities will allocate additional resources to enable the two police posts to operate round the clock in order to strengthen the protection of the personal safety of patients and healthcare personnel?



     My reply to the various parts of the question relating to public healthcare services raised by the Hon Gary Fan is as follows:

(1) to (3) All eligible Hong Kong residents can use the public healthcare services subsidised by the Government. As eligible Hong Kong residents residing in the Mainland may not necessarily declare to the Hospital Authority (HA) their residence in the Mainland when seeking medical consultations, HA does not maintain relevant statistical figures on eligible Hong Kong residents residing in the Mainland who have used HA's services.

     Nevertheless, in projecting the demand for public healthcare services, HA will fully consider the needs of all eligible persons based on the demographic data and population projections by the Government and through survey and research. Therefore, the healthcare service demand of Hong Kong residents who have moved to the Mainland will not be overlooked because of their relocation. Looking ahead, we will continue to monitor the demand for various healthcare services and plan the service development having regard to factors like the demographic growth and changes, medical technology advances and healthcare manpower, so as to meet the needs of the community at large.

(4) For the three financial years starting from 2015-16, the Government would allocate an additional time-limited funding of $300 million to HA for the enhancement of services in the New Territories East Cluster, New Territories West Cluster and Kowloon East Cluster. About $80 million of this time-limited funding has been deployed to the three clusters in 2015-16. Around 70 per cent of such an amount deployed was used to hire additional staff (including nursing and supporting staff) while the remaining amount was used to replace and purchase equipment, so as to provide better services for Hong Kong residents (including those who have moved to the Mainland and returned to Hong Kong for medical treatment). In the coming two financial years, HA will continue to use the remaining portion of the funding to further improve the services provided by the three clusters having regard to the service needs of the relevant clusters.

(5) Having regard to the demand for healthcare services in Tai Po, HA has deployed resources to enhance the inpatient service of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (AHNH). These include the provision of an additional medical ward in the third to fourth quarter of 2015, the development of a joint replacement centre and the installation of a magnetic resonance imaging machine. Besides, in order to meet the future healthcare demand of the entire population in the North District, the Government has reserved a site of around 30 000 square metres adjacent to the North District Hospital (NDH) for expansion projects to provide additional beds and increase service capacity when necessary.

(6) The Police have provided round-the-clock service in the police post in the accident and emergency (A&E) department of NDH since September 2015. At present, there are police officers on duty from 7am to 11pm every day in the A&E department of AHNH. AHNH has also arranged security guards to station at the A&E department round-the-clock to provide assistance at all times. Furthermore, AHNH and the Tai Po Police Station have established a notification mechanism to ensure close liaison on security arrangements. At the same time, the Police will examine the feasibility of deploying police officers to station at the A&E department of AHNH round-the-clock.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:10