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LCQ17: Provision of hospital beds in New Territories West Cluster
     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):


     Last year, the Government announced the allocation of $200 billion in the coming decade for the implementation of the development plan of hospitals, so as to cater for the increasing demand for healthcare services.  Notwithstanding that the total number of public hospital beds will increase by some 5 000 under the development plan, the New Territories West (NTW) Cluster will not benefit from it.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
(1) the current ratio of population to general beds for the catchment districts in the NTW Cluster, and how that ratio compares with the overall ratio of the whole territory; whether the authorities have assessed the number of hospital beds that need to be added to the NTW Cluster in order to align the two ratios; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) whether the Hospital Authority have planned to increase the number of hospital beds in the NTW Cluster in the coming decade; if they have, (i) of the respective numbers of various types of hospital beds to be added, (ii) how such numbers compare with the relevant figures of other clusters, and (iii) of the criteria adopted for determining the number of hospital beds to be added to various clusters; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) the number of various types of hospital beds planned to be added to Tuen Mun Hospital and Pok Oi Hospital in the NTW Cluster under various development plans in the past; whether such beds have all been put into service as scheduled by now; if not, of the number of beds that have not yet been put into service and the reasons for that; whether the authorities have measures in place to ensure that the various types of hospital beds planned to be added will all be put into service as scheduled upon completion of the various development plans of public hospitals; if they do, of the details?
     My reply to the question raised by the Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki relating to the provision of hospital beds in New Territories West (NTW) Cluster is as follows: 

(1) The delineation of cluster boundaries by the Hospital Authority (HA) is primarily an administrative arrangement which aims to establish a clear management mechanism for hospital operation, and to facilitate integration and collaboration among various clinical services within the cluster.

     In planning for its services, HA will take into account a number of factors, including population growth, demographic changes, advancement in medical technology, manpower provision, organisation of services of the clusters and hospitals, service demand of local communities, etc. Geographical population is only one of the many factors under consideration. On the other hand, patients may, according to their needs, receive treatment in hospitals other than those in the districts where they reside. Moreover, some specialised services are available only in certain hospitals, and hence certain clusters and the beds in these clusters have to provide services for patients throughout the territory. For the aforesaid reasons, there are variances in the ratio of the number of general hospital beds per 1 000 geographical population among the clusters, and there is no direct correlation between the variances and the service quality of the clusters. 

     Based on the mid-year population estimates in 2015 published by the Census and Statistics Department, the population of catchment districts of the NTW Cluster was about 1 118 000. As at March 2015, the number of general beds (including acute and convalescent beds) made available to NTW Cluster was 2 326; the ratio of general beds (including acute and convalescent beds) per 1000 geographical population of its catchment districts was 2.1 for NTW Cluster and 2.9 for overall HA hospitals.  Meanwhile, around 12 per cent of the population of catchment districts of NTW Cluster were aged 65 or above.  This was relatively lower than the proportion of people aged 65 or above in the total population of Hong Kong (15 per cent).
(2) In planning and developing public healthcare services and facilities, the HA will take into account various factors such as demographic changes, service utilisation and changes in service delivery mode of each district with a view to having a comprehensive projection of future service demand (including the demand for hospital beds).  As situations vary among clusters, it is not appropriate to make direct comparison of the number of additional beds in various clusters.

     As regards the NTW Cluster, the HA has prepared physical capacity for continuous expansion and enhancement of healthcare services, which includes the commissioning of the Tin Shui Wai Hospital in phases starting from 2017, continued service expansion of Pok Oi Hospital and improvement works of Tuen Mun Hospital.  These works can provide a total of around 500 additional beds.  The cluster will monitor and review its service demand on a regular basis, apply for funding from the HA headquarters through the annual plan mechanism and implement projects according to the supply of manpower. 
(3) With the provision of new facilities under various development projects, the NTW Cluster draws up its annual plan according to the service demand in the district.  The additional beds of Tuen Mun Hospital and Pok Oi Hospital in the NTW Cluster, as proposed in its annual plans in the past few years, were all put into service as scheduled.  The number of additional beds in the two hospitals is listed below.
  Number of additional beds
Tuen Mun Hospital Pok Oi Hospital
2013/14 78 40
2014/15 14 38
2015/16 8 114
Total 100 192

     The NTW Cluster will continue to increase hospital beds according to its annual plan, and 109 more beds will be provided in 2016/17.  It will, taking into account the service demand and availability of manpower and supporting resources, provide other facilities and services in a progressive manner. The HA has an established mechanism for the planning of new bed opening, taking into account the operational situations and service demand. Through its annual planning exercise, HA plans the number and distribution of new beds to be put into service in the year concerned.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:59
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