LCQ5: Chinese medicine hospital
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (July 12):
The Chief Executive of the last term announced in the 2014 Policy Address that a site in Tseung Kwan O had been reserved for the development of a Chinese medicine hospital, which will be operated on a self-financing basis under the integrated Chinese-Western medicine service model. He further stated in this year's Policy Address that the Government had decided to finance the construction of the hospital and invite the Hospital Authority (HA) to assist in identifying a suitable non-profit-making organisation by tender to take forward the project and operate the hospital. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has formulated the details of the integrated Chinese-Western medicine service model to be adopted by the Chinese medicine hospital; if so, of the details (including the specific division of labour between the Chinese and Western medicine practitioners as well as their respective responsibilities and authority); if not, when the Government plans to announce such details;
(2) whether it knows the criteria to be adopted by HA for selecting a non-profit-making organisation to operate the Chinese medicine hospital; whether the Government and HA will, in future, provide assistance to the non-profit-making organisation which has successfully bid for the project in taking forward the project and operating the Chinese medicine hospital; if so, of the details; and
(3) in order to tie in with the long-term development of the Chinese medicine hospital, whether the Government will create a supernumerary directorate post dedicated to planning, coordinating, promoting and overseeing the development of the Chinese medicine hospital?
The Government has all along been committed to promoting the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. To this end, the Government established the Chinese Medicine Development Committee (CMDC) in 2013 to explore the long-term development needs of the Chinese medicine sector so as to facilitate Chinese medicine to play a more active role in public health.
Among others, the Government announced in the 2014 Policy Address its decision to reserve a site in Tseung Kwan O, originally earmarked for private hospital development, to set up a Chinese medicine hospital. In the same year, the Government invited Hospital Authority (HA) to launch the Integrated Chinese-Western Medicine (ICWM) Pilot Programme to explore the feasible clinical framework and gain experience for the provision of Chinese medicine in-patient services and the development of the Chinese medicine hospital. All along, the Government has been working closely with the CMDC to study the mode of development for the Chinese medicine hospital which is suitable for Hong Kong.
As the first Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong, the Government considers that it is necessary to allow flexibility and room for its future development and therefore agrees with the CMDC's recommendations that the Chinese medicine hospital should be a non-public hospital and be operated by non-profit-making organisation(s) on a self-financing basis. The Chinese medicine hospital will provide ICWM in-patient services with Chinese medicine having the predominant role. The hospital will also support the teaching, clinical training and scientific research of higher education institutions in Hong Kong, including the Schools of Chinese Medicine of three universities.
During January to May in 2016, the Government invited non-binding expression of interest from non-profit-making organisations which are interested in developing and operating a Chinese medicine hospital. Responding non-profit-making organisations generally consider that they could hardly afford the enormous cost of constructing the Chinese medicine hospital without financial support from the Government. After thorough deliberation, the Government announced in the 2017 Policy Address that it has decided to finance the construction of a Chinese medicine hospital and invite the HA to assist in identifying a suitable non-profit-making organisation by tender to take forward the project and operate the hospital.
As the provision of Chinese medicine hospital services is unprecedented, detailed and careful consideration of various factors, including the following challenges, is necessary when planning for the Chinese medicine hospital:
- establishing a framework for and experience in the operation of a Chinese medicine hospital;
- meeting the developmental needs of the Chinese medicine sector;
- ensuring effective provision of ICWM in-patient services with Chinese medicine having the predominant role;
- making sustainable financial arrangement;
- ensuring effective management of the operation contract; and
- facilitating the co-operation between the Chinese medicine hospital and the educational, training and research institutions.
Today, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update on the latest development of the Chinese medicine hospital.
(1) As there is no relevant experience in Hong Kong in planning the development of a Chinese medicine hospital and the healthcare system of Hong Kong is different from those in the Mainland and overseas countries in terms of legal and regulatory regimes, there is no identical precedent to model on. Although the HA has gained experience in the provision of ICWM in-patient services, there are areas which still need to be examined when the ICWM model with Chinese medicine having the predominant role is put into clinical practice.
These include collaboration between Chinese medicine practitioners and Western medicine doctors, design of clinical pathways, clinical accountability, review and monitoring systems, patients' safety and rights, and ways to handle the assessment, treatment and follow-up of patients in different treatment episodes under the ICWM approach. The above issues involve complicated legal and insurance matters which require thorough study and discussion. The adoption of evidence-based medicine will also be a major challenge to the whole project.
(2) To fully consider the views of stakeholders and provide appropriate operational conditions, the HA has commissioned an international consultant to conduct a consultation exercise with local stakeholders and overseas experts since April 2017 and the exercise is expected to complete at the end of this year. Upon completion of the consultation and the analysis report, we will further map out the direction for developing the Chinese medicine hospital with the HA and relevant parties, and formulate a set of operational requirements which are practicable and in line with the operational considerations of the Chinese medicine sector before rolling out the open tender procedures.
(3) The Chief Executive has stated in her Manifesto that a unit dedicated to the development of Chinese medicine would be set up under the Food and Health Bureau, and the unit should maintain close liaison with the sector. The Bureau is now actively following up on the issue including the deployment of manpower in accordance with the established procedures. The proposed new dedicated unit will be responsible for the development of Chinese medicine sector in Hong Kong, including to decide on the position of Chinese medicine in our public healthcare system, and to plan the operational model of the first Chinese medicine hospital accordingly. The Government will take forward the work mentioned above step by step to match with the timing for the Chinese medicine hospital to commence operation, and report the progress of the development of the Chinese medicine hospital at an appropriate juncture.
Published on: 2017-07-12
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