Policy address

Last Christmas, we have a wonderful time in the HKDU annual dinner party. With over 30 official guests coming to grace our occasion, our guest performers did a real good job to entertain the party attendee. The guest being most welcome in the occasion, in my opinion, is Dr. Ko Wing Man, our Secretary for Health and Food.

Few months before the dinner, the Secretary of Dr. Ko replied that only he could come for a short while before the dinner started. However, one day before Christmas, I received a SMS message from Dr. Ko that he would come with his wife too. In fact, on the Christmas night, he came with his wife, his Deputy Secretary, Prof. Sophia Chan and his Administrative Assistant, Ms. Rebecca Chan, a friend of mine for years. Furthermore without prior arrangement, Dr. Ko agreed to sing a Song with me and to sing a few Christmas Songs together with Dr. C H Leong too during the dinner which of course attract a lot of applause from the audience. Furthermore, he stayed much more longer during the dinner than expected. We must thank Dr. Ko and Dr. Leong for performing for us.

However, on the night of the Annual dinner of the Hong Kong Association of Pharmaceutical Industry on 8th January 2013, Dr. Ko stated openly that in the year 2013, two measures will be implemented for the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries respectively. First is the Health Protection Scheme (HPS) and second is the Written Order for drugs. On behalf of the Union, I immediately asked him on the issue of Written Order, telling him that our members have grave concern over the issue. His reply is that he has tried his very best to argue on our behalf but could not convince his fellows in the Bureau to change the idea. We immediately lined up with the dentists, pharmacists and patients' groups to talk on the issue on 15th and 23rd January 2013 taking the views of majority of our members into the discussions. We would ask the authority to revisit the issue of Written Order for drugs. Since the measure only touch on the enforcement of the code of practice for drug sellers, we would not bring up this issue to the Legislative Council for the time being.

I was not concerned when the Policy Address was read out by our Chief Executive on 16th January 2013 in the Legislative Council, as I would not expect too much from him. However, I was very much impressed by Dr. Ko who personally phoned me immediately after the speech by CY in the Legislative Council asking for comments on the Bureau's initiatives on medical services. He even sent to me by email immediately the document LC Paper No. CB(2)486/12-13(03) which was tabled in the Legislative Council Panel on Health Services on 21st January 2013 entitled "2013 Policy address - Policy Initiatives of the Food and Health Bureau" which members can search in the internet. Never before your Union receive such information personally from the Secretary after announcement by the Chief Executive. This hints me to study the Policy address in more details, particularly in the area of medical services.

All the all, there are not much new projects in the Policy. However, I am totally supportive of the vision in the first paragraph. The Vision of ensuring the dual track system - public and private health care systems, to remain strong and robust, and to develop in a balanced and sustainable manner. I was particularly impressed by his reassurance of promoting money follows the patient through the phone. There would be more money injected for public private partnership programmes in terms of medical and health care vouchers to target groups apart from the young and the elderly. And he wants me to pass this message to you all.

As regards the new initiatives in reviewing the public and private sectors, I am also totally supportive. Apart from participating in the review on the regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities, I request Dr. Ko for HKDU's participation in the review of Hospital Authority's operation. This is important as the exercise would affect both the public and private medical services in the long years to come. In the areas of Public Private Participation (PPP), we should be helpful in pointing out the private sector's wishes and commitment, without which the PPP would surely turn out to fail again.

As child is important to the society, we are totally supportive of development of the Centre of Excellence in Paediatrics. However, the medical manpower matter should receive detail calculation and discussion before further action as the number of medical student intake at 420 per year is already too many.

Other issues that our Union would not be too active to support are the Health Protection Scheme (HPS) and Electronic Health Record Sharing System which we have certain concerns especially on issue of capitated paying system and the issue of privacy of patients. The present Electronic Patient Record (ePR) programme is more than good enough.

This afternoon, I was interviewed by Brunswick Company on the future of the Link Management Ltd. My answers are more than negative impression on the Link. Let's pray what happens in Link's operations would not happen to our new Secretary's initiatives.

Wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year of the Snake and Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Dr. Yeung Chiu Fat Henry

22.1.2013