Speech by CE at Hospital Authority Convention 2016 opening ceremony (English only) (with photo/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the Hospital Authority Convention 2016 opening ceremony this morning (May 3):

     Thank you. Those are very nice ties and scarves indeed. You probably have to pay for them, but just bear this in mind - whatever price you pay, we don't charge, the Government doesn't charge a VAT or sales tax in Hong Kong.

     Professor John Leong (Chairman of the Hospital Authority), Vice Minister Wang Guoqiang (Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission), government colleagues, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It is a pleasure to join you today for the opening of the Hospital Authority Convention, a particular pleasure since the Hong Kong Hospital Authority is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

     Thanks to the dedication and concerted efforts of the Hospital Authority - and all our healthcare professionals - Hong Kong enjoys world-class healthcare services.  

     Our healthcare system is dual-track, embracing both the public and private sectors. Our public hospitals, which take care of about 90 per cent of in-patient services, are the cornerstone of Hong Kong's healthcare system. They provide a safety net - and peace of mind - for all Hong Kong people, especially those with limited financial means.

     The private healthcare sector offers personalised choice for those who are willing and able to pay for their own medical treatment. Together, our public and private sectors form one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.

     The policy of the Hong Kong Government is clear: we will continue to uphold this dual-track system, in particular our commitment to public healthcare, and we will strive to ensure that no one is deprived of medical treatment because of a lack of means.

     In the past five years, government expenditure on public healthcare services has increased by nearly 50 per cent, to some $68 billion this fiscal year. And the lion's share - some 75 per cent - is recurrent subvention to the Hospital Authority.

     The demand for quality healthcare services in Hong Kong is high and will continue to rise in coming years, given the rapid aging of our population, as well as the community's increased aspiration for healthcare services.

     To meet those needs, and expectations, we must plan for the future. Let me assure you that we are doing just that.

     The Government has earmarked $200 billion for a 10-year hospital development plan, and those announced in my annual Policy Address, which was delivered about three and a half months ago, including building of new public hospitals, and the expansion and redevelopment of existing public hospitals. This will increase public hospital beds by about 20 per cent, from about 27 000 at the present to some 32 000 in 10 years.

     Human resources are equally essential to the success and sustainability of our healthcare system. In this regard, the Government is conducting a strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development, which covers 13 registered healthcare professions. The review will make recommendations to equip us in meeting future manpower demands, and to foster development of healthcare professionals.

     The Government is fully aware of the heavy workload of our healthcare professionals, particularly those on the front line. We applaud your dedication and treasure your contribution in serving the Hong Kong people. Rest assured that we are putting forth best efforts to improve the working conditions of our healthcare professionals. Additional resources are provided to the Hospital Authority to recruit and retain staff, enhance professional training, and create a better working environment in public hospitals and clinics. The engagement of retired clinicians on a part-time basis and recruitment of non-local doctors under limited registration are some of the initiatives being pursued by the Hospital Authority.

     Ours is a partnership - the Government and the Hospital Authority working together for the continual improvement of public healthcare services. With the support of healthcare professionals, medical service providers, academics and other stakeholders, I have every confidence that our healthcare system will go from strength to strength.

     My thanks to the Hospital Authority for organising another successful Convention. My thanks, as well, to guests and speakers from the Mainland of China and from other parts of the world. I am sure we will all benefit from your experience and wisdom.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Issued at HKT 10:45