LCQ5: Framework Agreement on Hygiene and Health Cooperation of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is a question by the Dr Hon Pierre Chan and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 7):
It has been reported that on the 9th of last month, the health authorities of the three places of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao signed a Framework Agreement on Hygiene and Health Cooperation of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Agreement) and agreements on 26 co-operation projects. The co-operation projects include a training programme for general medical practitioners in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, a training programme for medical specialists in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and a Guangdong-Hong Kong joint training programme for certified nurse specialists. Regarding the healthcare services in the three places of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will make public the full contents of the Agreement and the 26 co-operation projects, as well as their details such as the objectives, whether the qualifications of personnel from Guangdong and Macao who have received training in Hong Kong will obtain professional recognition in Hong Kong, and the implementation timetables; if so, when it will do so; if not, of the reasons for that;
(2) whether the Agreement covers mutual recognition of training qualifications and professional qualifications for healthcare personnel in the three places of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao; if so, of the details, and whether it has assessed if such arrangements have contravened the provision in Article 142 of the Basic Law, i.e.
"[t]he Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall, on the basis of maintaining the previous systems concerning the professions, formulate provisions on its own for assessing the qualifications for practice in the various professions"; and
(3) whether it discussed, in the past three years, with the health authorities of Guangdong and Macao plans to facilitate residents in Guangdong and Macao to come to Hong Kong for medical treatments; if so, of the details, and whether it has assessed if the public and private healthcare systems in Hong Kong can cope with the additional service demand?
My reply to the three parts of the question raised by Dr Hon Pierre Chan is as follows:
(1) The First Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area Hygiene and Health Cooperation Conference (the Conference) held on January 9, 2018 was co-organised by the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province, the Food and Health Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, and the Health Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government. At the Conference, the three parties signed the Framework Agreement on Hygiene and Health Cooperation of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Agreement), which aims at promoting experience exchange and co-operation among the three governments on matters relating to hygiene and health in the Bay Area. The co-operation projects include enhancement of the quality of health services, improvement and innovation of the co-operation mechanism, and promotion of major co-operation platforms, major co-operation projects and co-operation policy planning. The Agreement does not involve any content related to the registration and practice of non-locally trained healthcare professionals in Hong Kong.
In addition to the Agreement, there were 26 co-operation projects (institution co-operation projects) proposed at the Conference among various institutions from Hong Kong (including universities, training providers and professional bodies) and institutions from Guangdong and Macao, or between institutions from Guangdong and Macao.
As agreements of these co-operation projects were signed by other institutions, the Government does not have details of these co-operation projects. According to the project summary provided by the Conference, those institution co-operation projects related to training and exchange of healthcare professionals are mainly aimed at enhancing such exchanges, and do not involve any content related to the registration qualifications and practice of non-locally trained healthcare professionals in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has a competitive edge in healthcare professional training. We notice that training exchanges for healthcare professionals among various professional institutions of Hong Kong and the Mainland are on the rise.
Provided that the provision of healthcare services in Hong Kong will not be compromised, the Government welcomes the efforts made by local healthcare training providers and professional bodies to enhance training exchanges for healthcare professionals between Hong Kong and the Mainland through various means.
(2) At present, the registration and practice of registered medical practitioners as well as registered and enrolled nurses in Hong Kong are stipulated in the Medical Registration Ordinance (Cap. 161) and the Nurses Registration Ordinance (Cap. 164) respectively.
As mentioned, the Agreement and the institution co-operation projects do not involve any content related to the registration qualifications and practice of non-locally trained healthcare professionals in Hong Kong. The Government has no plans to revise the requirements for non-locally trained doctors and nurses to register and practise in Hong Kong.
According to section 8(1)(a) of the Medical Registration Ordinance, a person may directly apply for full registration as a medical practitioner with the Medical Council of Hong Kong (MCHK) only if he/she has been awarded a degree of medicine and surgery by the Chinese University of Hong Kong or the University of Hong Kong and has completed internship training.
Non-locally trained doctors who wish to be medical practitioners on full registration in Hong Kong must pass the Licensing Examination administered by MCHK and complete a prescribed period of internship assessment at the Hospital Authority (HA) before they can register as medical practitioners for practice in Hong Kong.
According to the Nurses Registration Ordinance and related regulations, a person may practise as a registered or enrolled nurse only if he/she has completed the training specified by the Nursing Council of Hong Kong (NCHK). In respect of registered and enrolled nurses, a person must have satisfactorily completed a pre-registration or pre-enrolment nursing programme with a minimum duration of three years or two years respectively, which is provided by a gazetted training school and accredited by NCHK.
As for non-locally trained nurses who wish to practise as a registered or enrolled nurse in Hong Kong, they must meet the registration/enrolment requirements specified by NCHK, including passing its Licensing Examination.
(3) In the past three years, the Government has not discussed with the authorities of Guangdong or Macao any plans to facilitate the use of the public and private healthcare services in Hong Kong by residents in Guangdong and Macao. The Agreement also does not cover the above issues.
Public healthcare services in Hong Kong are heavily subsidised by the Government, targeting mainly at local eligible persons (mainly holders of Hong Kong Identity Card). Apart from emergency services, medical institutions of HA will consider providing non-emergency services for non-eligible persons (NEPs) on a case by case basis only when there is spare service capacity and the services provided for local residents will not be affected.
The rates of charges applicable to NEPs will apply.
Published on: 2018-02-07
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