HK leader Carrie Lam pledges to improve city’s health care system as numbers suggest worst of flu season could be over

07-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledges to improve city’s health care system as numbers suggest worst of flu season could be over

Hong Kong’s top officials have pledged to offer better medical services to residents by improving primary health care and recruiting more doctors and nurses, as parents prepare to send their children back to kindergartens next week.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was speaking on Tuesday as latest figures suggested the worst days of the peak flu season in the city could be over. On Monday, the inpatient bed occupancy rate at public hospitals was 87 per cent, down from 99 per cent on Sunday.

In the final week of last month, the rate of children aged five or below admitted to hospital because of flu also dropped to 7.65 per 10,000 in the age group down from 10.94 the previous week.

Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said that since the figures were improving, she could not see any need to extend the Lunar New Year holiday for kindergartens, which will end around February 14.

“We will keep close contact with the Education Bureau and announce any new developments,” Chan said.

Last month, Lam announced the injection of HK$500 million into the public health care sector as the city’s public hospitals reached breaking point during the peak flu season, with doctors and nurses staging protests and complaining about a lack of staff, beds and other resources.

After visiting Hong Kong airport on Tuesday, Lam was asked to comment on medical professionals who said the HK$500 million cash boost would not solve the problem.

“I have never said HK$500 million can solve the problems,” Lam said. “But I’ve heard a lot of suggestions from our friends in the medical sector, such as improving primary care to reduce the need for hospitalisation, training more medical staff, and strengthening collaboration between the social welfare and medical sector. We are following up on these.”

What Hong Kong hospitals need more than an extra HK$500 million

Lam added that to cater to the city’s needs, the Education Bureau had been subsidising tertiary education programmes to train more nurses.

“As our population is ageing, my administration emphasized the need to improve primary care, as well as to promote [the importance of] health and check-up services,” she said.

After a public function in Tai Po, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung was also asked if the government would try to make it easier to hire doctors from overseas.

“We are open to the idea of making special arrangements for Hong Kong people who graduated, or are practising overseas,” he said.

Cheung added that when he visited London in September, he met more than 100 Hong Kong medical students and doctors in the city.

“Many said they would consider coming back to Hong Kong,” he said.


Category: Hong Kong

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