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LCQ17: Primary care services of Community Health Centres
     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Pierre Chan and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):

     Regarding the primary care services provided by the Community Health Centres (CHCs) under the Hospital Authority (HA), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows, since the three CHCs in Tin Shui Wai, North Lantau and Kwun Tung commenced operation, (i) the respective amounts of funding they received each year, (ii) the respective numbers of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and staff of other grades (with a breakdown by rank) stationed there each year; and (iii) the respective numbers of consultation slots for general out-patient (GOP) services provided by them at different time sessions (i.e. the daytime and evening sessions from Mondays to Saturdays, and on Sundays and public holidays) in each season and their utilisation rates (set out such figures in a table);
(2) whether it knows how the various figures of the CHCs mentioned in (1) (except the North Lantau CHC) compare with the corresponding figures of the general out-patient clinics (GOPCs) under HA in Yuen Long District and Kwun Tong District for the same period;
(3) as quite a number of residents living in the vicinity of the three CHCs mentioned in (1) have indicated that they are unaware of (i) the existence of a CHC in the district, and (ii) the difference between the GOP services provided by such CHCs and those provided by GOPCs under HA, whether it knows (i) the expenditure incurred by HA in the past three years for publicising those three CHCs, and (ii) if HA has assessed the effectiveness of the related publicity work; if HA has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether it knows the details of the publicity materials produced by HA in print and electronic versions for publicising those three CHCs; and
(4) of the long-term policy objectives set by the authorities in respect of the positioning of CHCs in primary care services; given that the Government mentioned in last year's Budget that CHCs would be set up in Mongkok, Shek Kip Mei and North District, of the current progress of those three projects; whether it has plans to set up CHCs in other districts?
     One of the Government's policy initiatives to enhance primary care is to explore a new primary care service model; that is, to co-ordinate various service providers in the provision of primary care services under the concept of Community Health Centres (CHCs).  
     My reply to the questions raised by Dr Hon Pierre Chan is as follows: 
(1) and (2) To facilitate implementation of the said policy initiative to enhance primary care, the Hospital Authority (HA) has set up CHCs in Tin Shui Wai North, North Lantau and Kwun Tong. The Tin Shui Wai (Tin Yip Road) CHC, the first of its kind to be designed based on the primary care development strategy and service model, commenced service in mid-2012. The CHCs in North Lantau and Kwun Tong started operation in September 2013 and March 2015 respectively. 
     The CHCs of the HA provide integrated multi-disciplinary healthcare services through medical, nursing and allied health services, so as to enable patients to lead a healthy life in the community with strengthened community support and to reduce their need for hospitalisation. The services offered by the CHCs include medical consultation services, and health risk assessment and specific care services provided by multi-disciplinary teams for chronic patients with diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc., with a view to reduce the risk of complications and need for consultations for chronic patients. Healthcare professionals of the CHCs also provide other services such as wound care, fall risk assessment and management, smoking cessation counselling and dietetic advice. Patient empowerment services and facilities are available at the CHCs as well to encourage patients to strengthen their ability in disease management by making use of community resources.
     The integrated multi-disciplinary healthcare services of the CHCs involve staff from different disciplines, such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, dispensers, optometrists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, executive officers, technical services assistants, general service assistants, etc. As the service provision of CHCs involves cross-programme activities undertaken by different multi-disciplinary teams within their respective clusters, and involves multiple service sites, the breakdown of staff and estimated expenditure of individual CHCs cannot be separately identified.
     Generally speaking, general out-patient clinics (GOP clinics) and CHCs in the same district will complement each other in terms of service capacity and scope of service. To make medical consultation services more readily accessible to patients, the consultation quotas of GOP clinics and CHCs in close proximity in the same district are pooled together to facilitate the provision of primary care services in that district. The service capacity of each GOP clinic or CHC may vary owing to differences in clinical space and manning level. It is therefore not possible to make a direct comparison between them. Local residents have made full use of the services provided by the three CHCs since they started operation. The attendances for the Tin Shui Wai (Tin Yip Road) CHC, North Lantau CHC and Kwun Tong CHC from 2013-14 to 2015-16 are as follows:
  2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Tin Shui Wai
(Tin Yip Road) CHC
71 124 75 448 82 431
North Lantau CHC 29 580
(Commenced service in September 2013)
59 774 64 826
Kwun Tong CHC - 5 336
(Commenced service in March 2015)
235 505
Note: The attendances include those for medical consultation, nurse clinics in general out-patient setting and primary care services in related healthcare reform initiative programmes.  
(3) The HA has been promoting the three CHCs and their services through various channels.  The District Councils concerned were consulted at the construction and planning stages of the CHCs to keep the community informed of the progress and collect views from community partners and local residents. When the three CHCs started operation, publicity was launched by HA at the district level, including producing pamphlets, distributing leaflets, displaying posters, notices and banners, and inviting District Councillors to conduct site inspection and share their views, so as to enable the local community to learn more about the CHCs' services.
     For general publicity, the HA issued press releases to announce the completion and commissioning of the CHCs and invited media visits and coverage. Moreover, feature articles about the services of the three CHCs were published by the Primary Care Office in its publication Primary Care Link which is made available to primary care stakeholders and the public on the Primary Care Office's website and widely distributed to various districts. Online information and recorded voice messages about the new CHCs are also added to the website of the HA and the GOPCs Telephone Appointment System respectively.
(4) The Government is working on a number of CHC pilot schemes to offer the public one-stop primary care services in a more holistic manner, which include setting up CHCs in Mong Kok, Shek Kip Mei and North District. Feasibility studies and preliminary planning for these projects have been completed. The Food and Health Bureau is making arrangement for the required works and funding according to the internal resource allocation mechanism. Upon confirmation of the projected development timeframe and detailed project information, we will seek the views of the districts concerned in due course.
     We are also exploring the feasibility of implementing CHC projects in other districts and will identify the scope of service and mode of operation which can best meet local needs. The Government will continue to work with healthcare professionals and service providers from the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations and universities to explore models for different types of CHCs.
Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:34
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