CE to build a healthy, vibrant, caring and liveable Hong Kong
In his inaugural Policy Address today (October 19), the Chief Executive, Mr John Lee, said the Government would duly address the people's aspirations for a better life by building a more harmonious and stable Hong Kong that better supports the elderly and the disadvantaged as well as creating a better living environment for all.
Mr Lee set out his plans for a revamped healthcare system focused on prevention, as well as expanding the role of Chinese medicine.
"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," Mr Lee said, adding that additional resources would be invested to promote primary healthcare. Public hospital services now account for more than 80 per cent of the healthcare budget, while less than 20 per cent is spent on primary healthcare.
Under the new system, Hong Kong's District Health Centres (DHCs) would serve as hubs to co-ordinate primary healthcare services, Mr Lee said. "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."
The Government, he said, would publish its Primary Healthcare Blueprint before year's end. A Primary Healthcare Authority, responsible for managing primary healthcare service across the public and private sectors, will be established.
Major elements of the re-organised healthcare system will include:
* launching a three-year Chronic Disease Co-Care Pilot Scheme in which the DHCs will refer people at high risk of hypertension or diabetes mellitus to the private sector for further examination. Those diagnosed with the diseases will receive treatment from family doctors and allied health professional teams. The Government will subsidise about half of the screening and treatment fees;
* enhancing the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme by extending coverage to include primary healthcare services provided by audiologists, dietitians, clinical psychologists and speech therapists, as well as medical equipment such as hearing aids. The annual voucher amount will be increased from $2,000 to $2,500, to encourage use of primary healthcare services by the elderly;
* making better use of multi-disciplinary healthcare services to give patients direct access to services provided by physiotherapists and occupational therapists without a doctor’s referral;
* reviewing dental services with the aim of enlarging service scope and delivery mode; and
* expanding the role of Chinese medicine (CM) by boosting the annual quota of government-subsidised CM out-patient services from 600 000 to 800 000 and strengthening the CM services of DHCs.
Public hospital services, which the Chief Executive called "the backbone of our healthcare system," would also be enhanced.
Mr Lee said the post of Commissioner for Chinese Medicine Development would be created under the Health Bureau and a blueprint for the development of CM initiated. An additional 200 000 CM outpatient service quotas will also be added, and CM services will be expanded to more hospitals and diseases, including exploring its extension to cancer care. CM collaboration between Hong Kong and the Mainland, including the Greater Bay Area, will be deepened as well.
The Government will improve the patient experience at public hospitals, reduce waiting time for specialist out-patient services, strengthen hospital infrastructure by adding some 4 600 beds and about 80 operating theatres in the next five years and promote eHealth. He also said that Integrated Neuroscience Centres and Cardiovascular Diseases Centres would be established to provide integrated services for patients requiring multi-disciplinary support.
To enhance Hong Kong's vibrancy, the Government will map out a 10-year development blueprint for sports and recreation facilities, providing about 30 diversified facilities by phases. In addition, the Government will develop more leisure facilities and projects to add variety to the activities of citizens, including the development of "Round-the-Island Trail" on Hong Kong Island, active study of the development of southern part of Lantau for eco-tourism or recreation uses, and organisation of weekend bazaars.
To build a caring and inclusive Hong Kong, the Government would set up District Services and Community Care Teams (Care Teams), and delineate the 18 districts in Hong Kong into sub-districts, based on which local organisations and groups would be widely engaged to join Care Teams for organising caring activities and pulling together all sectors to take part in community building.
Hong Kong has the longest life expectancy in the world. Mr Lee said the Government would strengthen support measures for elderly persons to age in place, including regularising the Pilot Scheme on Community Care Service Voucher for the Elderly, setting up 16 new neighbourhood elderly centres with enhanced service scope, and expanding the Hospital Authority’s Integrated Discharge Support Programme for Elderly Patients. The allowance for carers of elderly persons and persons with disabilities under the Community Care Fund would be regularised, while the number of subsidised service places of residential care homes for the elderly would be increased, Mr Lee said.
Moreover, in order to build a liveable Hong Kong, the Government would strive to reduce the total carbon emissions by 50 per cent before 2035 (from the level of 2005) to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality before 2050. The Government would step up decarbonisation by conserving energy, promoting green transport and promoting waste reduction in the community.
Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:22