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Speakers share insights into contemporary healthcare at HA Convention

The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     More than 100 distinguished Mainland, overseas and local speakers will share their knowledge and insights to interact on various health topics of interest with over 5,000 healthcare and academic professionals at the two-day annual Hospital Authority (HA) Convention 2016, which opened today (May 3).

     The HA Convention 2016 is focusing on the HA's core values, namely "People-centred Care", "Professional Service", "Committed Staff" and "Teamwork". It aims to promote the sharing of knowledge and experience on clinical advances and approaches to modern healthcare service, and facilitate exploration and discussion of contemporary concepts among healthcare professionals and stakeholders.

     The HA Convention 2016 was officially opened this morning by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung; the Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Professor Wang Guoqiang; the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man; the HA Chairman, Professor John Leong; and the HA Chief Executive, Dr Leung Pak-yin.

     In his welcoming address, Professor Leong said that over the past quarter of a century, the HA has helped millions of people in Hong Kong regain and maintain good health. According to the findings of the HA's Patient Experience and Satisfaction Survey on Specialist Outpatient Service released in September last year, an average overall experience score of 7.7 on a 10-point scale was noted. "Such outstanding performance is only possible with the concerted efforts of the entire HA workforce," Professor Leong said.

     Expressing gratitude to the Government for earmarking $200 billion for a 10-year hospital development plan, he said, "This enables the HA to expand and upgrade its healthcare facilities, adding an additional 5,000 beds and around 90 new operating theatres within the next decade - up 18 per cent and 40 per cent respectively compared with our current capacity."

     Professor Leong added, "Examples of new ideas in planning for facilities development in the future include, when constructing new hospitals or redeveloping existing facilities, to have rehabilitation blocks linked to acute inpatient wards to allow the prompt transfer of stable patients from acute wards to rehabilitation facilities. Adopting appropriate new technologies, such as minimally invasive surgical techniques will help significantly expand our service capacity by reducing the length of inpatient stays."

     Delivering his keynote address "Travelling Life's Journeys Together", Dr Leung stressed that Hong Kong's evolving demographic and social landscape continues to have a profound impact on how public healthcare services are delivered with limited resources while managing community expectations.

     Dr Leung pointed out the challenge of the ageing population trend and that the proportion of elderly people aged 65 and above is expected to rise markedly from 15 per cent in 2014 to 33 per cent in 2064. "The chance of hospitalisation for elderly individuals is about four times greater than that for younger people. And this already high rate rises dramatically in the year leading up to death, with the service utilisation rate of elderly patients in the year before they pass away averaging 10 times more than that for those discharged alive."

     Dr Leung said, "Our actions should emphasise the importance of helping individuals to live well and, when the time comes, to die with dignity." He pointed out that palliative care must play an increasingly important role in enhancing the HA's ability to handle the rise in chronic disease management, offer support and comfort to patients and their carers, and use finite resources to optimise healthcare effects.

     "The HA would soon begin formulating a strategic service framework for palliative care to address the existing and anticipated service gaps over the next five to 10 years. Palliative care coverage for cancer patients in the HA was less than 70 per cent in the 2012-13 review, and for non-cancer patients, we have even more work to do."

     With 360 palliative care beds across the HA currently, Dr Leung said inpatient capacity is not the only solution to meeting community needs over the long term. "It is clear that more palliative services will need to take place outside formal hospital settings in the future if we are to meet the growing need.

     "The HA has to improve ambulatory and outreach services, encourage closer collaboration between palliative care professionals and other healthcare specialists, and provide non-medical community-based caregivers with practical support as part of an overarching goal to deliver 'continuity of care', personal choice and greater certainty to individuals with terminal or end-stage conditions."

     Dr Leung added, "With the annual number of deaths projected to rise by 50 per cent to 69,000 by 2035 and to double to 92,000 by 2046, there is an urgent need to develop and promote alternative solutions for palliative and end-of-life care."

     In his conclusion, Dr Leung said, "Working with the Government, we shall strive to encourage the development of a more robust policy and legislative framework that facilitates advanced care and end-of-life care planning, as well as the greater provision of palliative care outside formal hospital settings."

Ends/Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:19


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