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LCQ14: Repair and maintenance of facilities and structures of public hospitals
     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Chung-mau, in the Legislative Council today (April 26):
     It has been reported that a number of incidents involving facilities and structures have occurred in public hospitals recently, including the collapse of the ceiling of an office in the Kwai Chung Hospital in March this year and the fall of a surgical light and its support from the ceiling of an operation room in the United Christian Hospital in February this year. Such incidents have aroused public concern about the repair and maintenance of facilities and structures of public hospitals. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
(1) in respect of each similar incident in the past three years, the gap between the time of occurrence of the incident and the time when the structure or facility involved in such incident was last inspected or repaired;
(2) in respect of the incidents involving facilities and structures which occurred in public hospitals in the recent year, whether the Hospital Authority (HA) has pursued the responsibilities of the contractors in accordance with relevant contract terms; if so, of the details of the relevant contract terms; and
(3) the acceptance inspection mechanism put in place by HA to ensure the quality of works of the contractors responsible for building maintenance and repair as well as minor works of public hospitals, and whether a mechanism is in place to evaluate the performance of such contractors in the contract periods; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     In consultation with the Hospital Authority (HA), the consolidated reply to the questions raised by the Hon Leung Man-kwong is as follows:
     The Government and the HA have all along attached great importance to the safety of patients and staff. In this regard, the HA has in place mechanisms to conduct repair and maintenance works for different equipment and facilities in public hospitals and to engage different contractors with professional qualifications and experiences in relevant fields for the concerned works and monitoring thereof.
     For medical equipment, maintenance and repair services are conducted by qualified technical staff or suppliers following the manufacturers' recommendations in accordance with the HA's repair and maintenance strategy of medical equipment. Maintenance and repair services should be in compliance with relevant international safety standards and in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations. The HA also administers various maintenance and repair contracts to strengthen the quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of maintenance and repair services and avoid over-reliance on a single service provider.
     As for building maintenance and repair works as well as minor works, etc, the HA currently engages seven different term contractors (generally on a three-year contract basis). The work of each term contractor should be monitored and subject to acceptance inspection by a term maintenance surveying consultant and a term quantity surveying consultant. The hospital facility management team will also perform random checks to ensure that the work quality meets the relevant standards and contract requirements.
     With regard to the recent major incidents related to falling of medical equipment and building installations in the hospitals of HA, information on the time of occurrence and the immediately preceding maintenance service conducted for the structures/ facilities involved is as follows:
1. A piece of spalling concrete fell in a ward of Castle Peak Hospital on November 30, 2022. The last regular inspection of the concerned floor was conducted during September to November 2021.
2. Concrete spalling occurred in a consultation room of a child and adolescent psychiatric ward of Kwai Chung Hospital on March 8, 2023. The last regular inspection of the concerned floor was conducted during April to June 2021.
3. A surgical light in United Christian Hospital fell off on February 18, 2023. The last preventive regular inspection of the concerned equipment was conducted on December 28, 2022.
     At present, hospital facility management staff regularly conduct appraisal of the works agents (contractor or consultant) based on their performance during the contract period. The appraisal covers areas including work quality, work progress, safety performance and resource allocation, etc. If the appraisal result is not satisfactory, the works agent would be required to follow up and improve their performance according to the appraisal report. In addition, the relevant performance appraisal report(s) will serve as a reference for tender evaluation when the works agent bids for other HA's projects in the future. If a works agent is found to be in breach of contract terms, the HA will, according to the contract and legal advice, issue warning letter to the works agent, or even terminate the contract, while initiating legal proceedings to hold the works agent accountable according to relevant contract terms depending on the circumstances.
     In view of the recent incidents, the HA has established the Review Committee on Medical Equipment and Facility Maintenance in March 2023. The committee is reviewing matters regarding the maintenance and repair of medical equipment and facilities in public hospitals and will provide advice on the policy direction for managing relevant issues including contract management of maintenance contractors for medical equipment. Meanwhile, the Health Bureau has also requested the HA to conduct a comprehensive review and submit a report on the repair and maintenance of hospital facilities as well as the reporting and handling mechanism for incidents involving the safety of hospital patients.
     The HA will continue to follow up proactively and seriously on matters relating to hospital safety, including enhancing the monitoring of maintenance and repair works undertaken by contractors, with a view to ensuring a safe environment in hospitals.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:30
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