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CE's speech in delivering "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" to LegCo (6)
VI. Work Together to Safeguarding Harmony and Stability

79. The Government will duly address the aspirations of our people for a better life and build a more harmonious and stable Hong Kong by providing more targeted public services, better supporting the elderly and helping the disadvantaged, as well as creating a better living environment. Hong Kong is our home. The Government will unite local communities and engage all sectors in society to build a better Hong Kong together.

A Healthy and Vibrant Hong Kong

80. Our present healthcare system relies more on treatment than prevention. Expenditure on public hospital services accounts for over 80%, while less than 20% is spent on primary healthcare. Not only are resources skewed heavily towards public hospitals, the pressure exerted on them is also huge. With an ageing population and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, public hospitals are overburdened and the waiting time for specialist services has continued to lengthen. Coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the dire consequences of over-reliance on public hospitals over the years have become more evident. We need to change.

81. The Government will revamp the healthcare system. Our aim is to shift the emphasis of the healthcare system from its current treatment-oriented, hospital-based structure to a prevention-focused, community-based system, by investing additional resources to promote primary healthcare.

Primary Healthcare

82. We will publish the Primary Healthcare Blueprint within this year. With District Health Centres (DHCs) as the hub for co-ordinating primary healthcare services for our people, we will partner with the private healthcare sector to promote the concept of "family doctor for all" and collaborate with various healthcare professions to provide comprehensive, sustainable and people-centric primary healthcare services in the community. We will:

(i) establish the Primary Healthcare Authority for co-ordination and governance of primary healthcare service provision across the public and private sectors. It will also be responsible for setting standards and devising quality assurance mechanisms;

(ii) launch the three-year Chronic Disease Co-Care Pilot Scheme from next year, under which the DHCs will refer people who are screened to be at high risk of hypertension or diabetes mellitus to the private sector for further examination. Those who are diagnosed with the diseases will receive treatment provided by family doctors and allied health professional teams to help them better manage their chronic diseases and prevent complications. The Government will subsidise about half of the examination and treatment fees. A Strategic Purchasing Office will also be set up to co-ordinate primary healthcare services provided through the private healthcare sector;

(iii) enhance the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme by allowing the shared use of vouchers between spouses and extending the coverage to include primary healthcare services provided by audiologists, dietitians, clinical psychologists and speech therapists under the Accredited Registers Scheme for Healthcare Professions, as well as medical equipment (such as hearing aids) provided by them upon professional assessment. In addition, we will roll out a three-year pilot scheme to encourage the more effective use of primary healthcare services by the elderly, increasing the annual voucher from the existing $2,000 to $2,500. The additional $500 will be allotted automatically to the elderly persons' accounts upon their claiming at least $1,000 from the voucher for designated primary healthcare services such as disease prevention and health management. The additional amount should also be used for those designated services;

(iv) enhance the role of Chinese medicine (CM) by increasing the annual quota of government-subsidised CM out-patient service by one-third from 600 000 to 800 000, and strengthening the CM services of DHCs;

(v) better utilise multi-disciplinary healthcare services, including amendment of the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance to facilitate direct access of patients to services provided by physiotherapists and occupational therapists without a doctor's referral;

(vi) review dental services by setting up a working group on the development of dental care services to review the existing services and to advise the Government on enhancing the service scope and delivery mode; and

(vii) rationalise healthcare premises and facilities in the community by setting up a Steering Committee on Healthcare Facilities Planning and Development to take forward relevant development and redevelopment projects.

Public Hospital Services

83. Public hospital services are the backbone of our healthcare system. To enhance the services on various fronts, we will:

(i) reduce the waiting time for specialist out-patient services – The Hospital Authority (HA) will adopt a multi-pronged approach, including to (1) allocate more resources for new cases; (2) streamline referral arrangements for cross-specialty cases; (3) set up integrated clinics to provide multi-disciplinary support to minimise patients' waiting time for multiple specialists; and (4) enhance downloading of patients in stable condition to primary healthcare. The target is to reduce the waiting time of stable new case bookings for the specialty of Medicine by 20% in the next financial year (2023‑24);

(ii) improve patient experience – The HA will provide more convenience for patients by making wider use of telehealth services and introducing a new service model for drug collection and delivery;

(iii) enhance healthcare services – The HA will establish the Integrated Neuroscience Centres and Cardiovascular Diseases Centres to provide integrated services for patients requiring multi-disciplinary professional support. It will also establish the Uncommon Disorders Registry and foster collaboration with the national network and the Hong Kong Genome Institute, and set up the Poison Control Centre to enhance poison control and treatment services;

(iv) strengthen hospital infrastructure – We will press ahead with the First Ten-year Hospital Development Plan (HDP), adding about 4 600 beds and about 80 operating theatres in the next five years. The Second Ten-year HDP will include the development of a hospital network in the Northern Metropolis; and

(v) promote eHealth – We will explore mandating the upload of more types of health records by legislation, with a view to further transforming eHealth into a key infrastructure integrating public and private healthcare systems.

Supply of Healthcare Manpower

84. To help ensure sufficient healthcare manpower for the public healthcare system, we will look into different options including requiring qualified healthcare professionals to serve in public healthcare institutions for a specified period of time, and admitting qualified non-locally trained dentists and nurses.

Development of Chinese Medicine

85. To further promote the development of CM, we will enhance the functions of the Chinese Medicine Unit under the Health Bureau with the creation of the post of Commissioner for Chinese Medicine Development to strengthen the development of CM and relevant policy co-ordination work, which include formulating a blueprint for the development of CM; taking forward the provision of an additional 200 000 quotas of CM out-patient service; regularising integrated Chinese-Western medicine services and gradually expanding the services to more hospitals and diseases, including actively exploring their extension to cancer care; enhancing the implementation of the Chinese Medicine Development Fund; promoting the professional development of CM practitioners and CM drug personnel; and deepening the collaboration in CM between Hong Kong and the Mainland and the GBA.

Mental Health

86. Mental health is one of the keys to happiness. The Government will enhance the mental wellness of the community with services targeting the needs of various groups. We will strengthen the multi-disciplinary Student Mental Health Support Scheme to identify students in need and make arrangements for them to receive professional support at the first opportunity. The HA will allocate additional resources to strengthen community psychiatric services and launch a pilot public-private partnership programme for the provision of psychiatric specialist out-patient service. The Social Welfare Department will also strengthen the services of the Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness. Apart from continuing to subsidise organisations to implement community support projects, we will set up a mental health support hotline to provide immediate support and referral services.

Tobacco Control

87. Our tobacco control efforts will continue, even though the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong reached an all-time low of 9.5% last year. We will consult the public early next year on the next steps for tobacco control. Our target is to further reduce smoking prevalence to 7.8% by 2025.

Co-operation with the Mainland to Facilitate Registration of Pharmaceutical Products in Hong Kong and Use of Pharmaceutical Products and Medical Devices in the Mainland

88. To foster medical co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland, we will make reference to the registration approvals made by the National Medical Products Administration and other suitable drug regulatory authorities, allowing pharmaceutical products registered in the Mainland and relevant places to be registered and sold in Hong Kong upon fulfilment of the relevant stringent requirements on safety, efficacy and quality, thereby diversifying the supply of pharmaceutical products. We will also maintain liaison with the Mainland on allowing more Hong Kong-registered drugs and medical devices to be used in the GBA. In addition, we will study the feasibility of allowing Hong Kong people living in the Mainland cities of the GBA to make use of the Elderly Health Care Vouchers for settling payments of Mainland medical insurance premiums.

Sports Development

89. To further promote sports in the community, we will work with the sports sector, schools and the business sector to promote urban sports that are popular among young people in recent years, such as 3-on-3 basketball, sport climbing and skateboarding. We will also review the competition events of the Hong Kong Games to provide more opportunities for participation of different age groups.

90. The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau will map out a 10-year development blueprint for sports and recreation facilities, providing about 30 diversified facilities by phases, such as sports centres, swimming pools, sports grounds and parks. The planned facilities include Hong Kong's second sports park to be developed in Whitehead, Ma On Shan, and large-scale sports and recreation facilities in the Northern Metropolis.

91. The Government will continue to enhance the professionalism in the sports sector and develop sports as an industry, including enhancing the arrangement of training and competition venues for qualified sports clubs and supporting local sports clubs in their participation in major sports competitions in the Mainland and the region. We will also launch a five-year pilot programme on career and education for athletes with disabilities to equip them for post‑retirement development. In addition, we will enhance the Hong Kong "M" Mark System to support the hosting of at least 10 major international sports events in Hong Kong annually, with a view to further promoting Hong Kong as a centre for mega international sports events.

Leisure Facilities and Projects

92. We will develop more leisure facilities and projects, adding variety to the activities of citizens:

(i) Round-the-Island Trail – I have decided to develop a "Round-the-Island Trail" of about 60 kilometres on Hong Kong Island, connecting the waterfront promenades on the northern shore and a number of existing promenades and countryside walking trails in the Southern District. We will carry out studies and design as well as works from next year onward with the target of connecting 90% of the Trail within five years;

(ii) Eco-tourism in Southern Part of Lantau – We are actively studying the development of about 1 000 hectares of the "Green Belt" sites in the southern part of Lantau for eco-tourism or recreation uses; and

(iii) Weekend Bazaars – The Home Affairs Department will join hands with local groups to organise weekend bazaars at five regions in the territory in the fourth quarter of 2022, fostering diversified local economic activities. Drawing on the experience, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department also plans to organise similar weekend bazaars next year.

(To be continued.)
Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:56
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