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Government strengthens regulation of private healthcare facilities

     The Government today (April 11) released the Consultation Report on Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities (PHFs), which summarises the consultation's outcomes and maps out the way forward for regulation. The Government will revamp the regulatory regime for PHFs through legislation to strengthen regulation and enhance standards, aiming to protect patients' safety and consumer rights as well as contribute to the sustainable development of the local healthcare system.

     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said, "With a view to better regulating PHFs amid the evolving landscape of healthcare services, the Government launched a three-month public consultation on revamping the existing regulatory regime for PHFs in December 2014. We proposed to regulate three categories of PHFs, i.e. hospitals, facilities providing high-risk medical procedures in ambulatory setting, and facilities providing medical services under the management of incorporated bodies. We also proposed 19 regulatory aspects under five broad categories of control including corporate governance, standard of facilities, clinical quality, price transparency and sanctions. Moreover, we consulted the public on the proposed powers to be conferred on the regulatory authority.

     "According to the public views received, generally speaking, there was solid support for having a more modernised and comprehensive regulatory control for different categories of PHFs in Hong Kong. Respondents generally agreed that the current regulatory regime, which is limited to a narrow set of facilities drawn up decades ago, was not adequate amid the evolving landscape of PHFs. The public generally supported our proposed 19 regulatory aspects and provided specific opinions for our reference."

     After carefully considering the views of the public and stakeholders, the Government proposes to refine some of the specific proposals including:

(1) simplifying the names of two categories of PHFs to be regulated, namely changing "facilities providing high-risk medical procedures in ambulatory setting" and "facilities providing medical services under the management of incorporated bodies" to "day procedure centres" and "clinics under the management of incorporated bodies" respectively;

(2) exploring the establishment of an independent Committee on Complaints against Private Healthcare Facilities, which would be empowered to look into unresolved complaints against all three categories of PHFs at service delivery level;

(3) changing the name of the regulatory aspect "Provision of Quotation" to "Provision of Budget Estimate" so as to clarify the policy objective of requiring private hospitals to provide a plausible reference of the quantum of overall charge (rather than a definite "quote") for the consideration of prospective patients; and

(4) critically reviewing the scope and level of penalties of the proposed sanctions in the ensuing legislative exercise. Other penalty measures will also be stipulated in the law to tackle breaches of other regulatory requirements including the codes of practice, such as suspension of service or even cancellation of licence.

     "To take forward our regulatory proposals, we are taking steps to iron out details of the new regulatory regime in collaboration with various Government departments and stakeholders, with a view to introducing the relevant bill to the Legislative Council in the 2016/17 legislative session. In the meantime, we will enhance the public's understanding of our proposals through publicity programmes," the spokesman added.

     During the consultation period, the Government received 296 written submissions in total including 238 from individuals and 58 from organisations. The comments and suggestions provided by the community help the Government lay a foundation for the introduction of the new regulatory regime in future.

     The Consultation Report on Regulation of PHFs can be downloaded from the Healthcare Planning and Development Office of the Food and Health Bureau website (, and will be available for collection at district offices from April 18 onwards.

Ends/Monday, April 11, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:01


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