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Government to introduce bill to better regulate private healthcare facilities
     The Government is introducing a new regulatory regime for private healthcare facilities (PHFs) through legislation to protect patients' safety and consumer rights as well as to facilitate the sustainable development of the healthcare system.

     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said today (June 14), "The current regulatory frameworks for PHFs under the Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Maternity Homes Registration Ordinance (Cap. 165) and the Medical Clinics Ordinance (Cap. 343) are limited to a narrow set of premises and are outdated. The new Private Healthcare Facilities Bill, which will replace the two ordinances, will provide a modernised regulatory regime that keeps pace with scientific advancement, health services development and international best practices."

     The key areas of the bill are as follows:

(a) To regulate four types of PHFs, namely hospitals, day procedure centres, clinics and health services establishments. Clinics which involve only solo or small group practice may be exempted under the new regime;

(b) To set out explicitly the requirements, authorities and responsibilities of the licensee and chief medical executive in managing a licensed PHF;

(c) To stipulate requirements for licensed PHFs to put in place price transparency measures;

(d) To provide for a two-tier complaints management system, underpinned by an independent Committee on Complaints against Private Healthcare Facilities, to handle complaints against the PHFs to be regulated under the new regime;

(e) To stipulate regulatory measures and offences to tackle breaches of the law and licensing requirements;

(f) To provide for the transfer of nursing homes for elderly persons to be regulated under the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance (Cap. 459); and

(g) To provide for transitional arrangements, so as to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime.

     In addition, different types of PHFs will each be subject to a set of regulatory standards, which will be promulgated in the form of codes of practice by the Director of Health. A Project Steering Committee on Standards for Ambulatory Facilities has been set up by the Department of Health and the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine to draw up standards for day procedure centres and to give advice on the standards for clinics.

     The new regulatory regime will commence in phases, with the regulatory regime of riskier types of PHFs put in force earlier. Transitional arrangements will also be in place to allow time for operators and the medical and dental professions to get prepared before implementation of the revamped regime.

     "The bill is the result of a root-and-branch review, as well as extensive engagement with stakeholders for consensus building over the past few years. We have been engaging the public and stakeholders at various stages of deliberating details of the revamped regulatory regime by means of public consultation, letters to doctors/dentists, briefings, seminars, visits and meetings, etc. In formulating details of the Bill, we have sought to strike a balance among the interests of the public and other stakeholders," the spokesman added.

     The bill will be gazetted on June 16 and introduced into the Legislative Council on June 21.
Ends/Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:00
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