Speech by CS at Hospital Authority Convention 2017 opening ceremony (English only) (with photo/video)
Professor John Leong Chi-yan (Chairman of the Hospital Authority), Minister Wang Hesheng (Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission), Dr Leung Pak-yin (Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority), Dr Ko Wing-man (Secretary for Food and Health), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you all here this morning for the opening of the Hospital Authority (HA) Convention 2017. On behalf of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I would like to extend our warmest welcome to our honourable guests and many participants from overseas, especially the large delegation from the Mainland.
The HA Convention was first organised back in 1993, shortly after the HA was established in 1990 and took over the management of all public hospitals in December 1991. Since then, the Convention has become an annual signature event with themes closely matching the different development phases of the organisation. This year, focusing on the core values of the HA, and that is, "People-centred Care", "Professional Service", "Committed Staff" and "Teamwork", the Convention provides a valuable platform for renowned healthcare professionals, experts and leaders from within Hong Kong and from the Mainland of China and also, of course, other parts of the world, to share their experience and expertise while promoting research excellence for the betterment of healthcare services in Hong Kong.
Over the years, Hong Kong has developed a high-quality and remarkably efficient healthcare system supported by a pool of healthcare professionals known for their unwavering dedication as well as high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. Our healthcare system is rated the most efficient among the 55 economies covered in a study conducted by Bloomberg in 2016. This system, which delivers quality services for the public, has achieved outstanding health standards, as evidenced by the fact that Hong Kong's health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality rank among the best in the world. In fact, in terms of life expectancy, we are the highest in the world so far.
Notwithstanding its impressive achievements so far, the present system is facing fundamental challenges. The increasing healthcare needs arising from demographic changes, especially the rapidly ageing population (one in 6.5 persons in Hong Kong is aged 65 or above, and in 20 years' time that figure will rise to one in three), rising medical costs owing to advances in medical technology and public expectations for healthcare to keep up with such advances, and the consequent increase in healthcare expenditure, are all imposing immense pressure and strain on our healthcare system.
We are well aware that maintaining the status quo is not an option. I stress, not an option. There is a pressing need, therefore, for us to enhance the overall capacity of our public healthcare system in order to meet the healthcare needs of Hong Kong. The Government has substantially increased the resources allocated to public healthcare services over the years. As compared with five years ago when the current-term Government took office, recurrent government expenditure on health has increased by a notable 34 per cent to around HK$61.9 billion in the current financial year, with the lion's share, that is about 88 per cent of that share, allocated to the HA on a recurrent basis.
To expand and upgrade healthcare facilities in a more flexible and long-term manner, we earmarked a total provision of HK$200 billion last year for the implementation of a 10-year hospital development plan. The plan will cover the redevelopment and expansion of a number of hospitals, including, not in any pecking order, Kwong Wah Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Kwai Chung Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, Haven of Hope Hospital, Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital, Operating Theatre Block of Tuen Mun Hospital, North District Hospital, Lai King Building of Princess Margaret Hospital and finally, Grantham Hospital. As for new hospital projects, an acute general hospital will be built in the Kai Tak Development Area - the former Kai Tak Airport - providing an oncology centre and the first neuroscience centre in Hong Kong.
This HK$200 billion development plan is certainly a vast investment. It will provide 5 000 additional hospital beds, representing an increase of 18 per cent. Operating theatres will increase by 40 per cent to 320. Specialist outpatient service capacity will also be expanded substantially by 40 per cent from 6.8 million to 10 million attendances a year. At the district level, community health centres will be set up in Mong Kok, Shek Kip Mei and North District. Additional services for 410 000 attendances will be provided at the general outpatient clinics each year.
Whilst Hong Kong has a reliable public hospital system, we also need a dynamic and vibrant private healthcare sector to provide patients with more choices and offer healthcare professionals alternative career development options. A well-developed private sector will induce healthy competition in the healthcare system, thus helping raise the standards of professionals in both sectors. We are delighted to see that a new private hospital commenced service earlier this year and construction is now in full swing for Hong Kong's first non-profit-making university teaching hospital, of which the development cost is partly financed by government loans. In March 2016, the Government allocated HK$10 billion to the HA for setting up the HA Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Fund, with a view to generating investment returns for funding clinical PPP programmes and initiatives. The Government has also provided a loan of HK$4 billion for the Chinese University of Hong Kong to develop a non-profit-making private hospital.
At present, the public healthcare sector still accounts for some 90 per cent of inpatient services in Hong Kong and serves as the safety net for those in need, particularly the disadvantaged. To strengthen healthcare services for the elderly and other needy patients, from this financial year onwards, we will increase the annual recurrent provision for the HA by HK$2 billion to HK$54.4 billion.
The development of healthcare facilities and infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with manpower planning. In view of this, we have already provided additional training places in local universities for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to meet the manpower demand arising from healthcare development and demographic changes. For example, the number of medical training places has grown threefold since 2009. Moreover, we will publish the report of the first territory-wide Strategic Review on Healthcare Manpower Planning and Professional Development in Hong Kong in the coming months. This strategic review is in fact done by a committee chaired by Dr Ko Wing-man. The review will make recommendations to better enable our society to meet projected demand for qualified and well-trained healthcare professionals.
While these measures clearly demonstrate the Government's resolve to increase healthcare manpower supply in the long term, they will, of course, take time to yield results. The growing demand for public healthcare services, severe manpower constraints and rising expectations of patients and their families as well as the general public are putting immense pressure on front-line healthcare workers. Despite the heavy workload and huge pressure, I must say that all our 75 000 HA colleagues remain fully resilient, totally committed, and continue to deliver quality services in a most professional manner. I would like to take this opportunity to salute their sustained efforts and sterling contributions.
Before the close of the Convention tomorrow, the HA will present outstanding staff and team awards to recognise the unsung heroes in our public healthcare system. Let me take this opportunity to extend my warmest congratulations to them in advance. My profound thanks also go to those who have contributed to the improvement of healthcare services in our community over the years. Also, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the speakers and guests from all over the world for joining this very important annual event.
Finally, I wish the HA and this year's Convention every success and all of you a fruitful conference. And also for overseas delegates, a happy and pleasant stay in Hong Kong.
Ends/Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:40
Issued at HKT 12:40