Would the Government listen to our views?
Amidst society activities, the Chief Executive presented her policy address in her office instead of in the Legislative Council on 16 October 2019. This is the first time for such to happen in the history of Hong Kong. Afterwards, Government high officials including the Chief Executive presented in the media to explain further on the issues of the Policy address to reporters and the citizens of Hong Kong.
If you care to look into the Policy address on the paragraphs of Health care, it is not difficult to digest the few paragraphs. I would like to reproduce the paragraphs below for your perusal.
“Embracing Public Health 36
Hong Kong’s public healthcare system is under enormous pressure due to an ageing population and the increasing prevalence of chronic and complex diseases. Meanwhile,
members of the public are mostly relying on treatment-oriented healthcare services.
37 In a bid to shift the emphasis of the present healthcare system and people’s mindset from treatment-oriented to prevention-focused, I proposed in my last Policy Address to set up District Health Centres (DHCs) in all 18 districts to provide primary healthcare services through medical-social collaboration and public-private partnership. The aim is to enhance the public’s capability in selfmanagement of health and provide support for the chronically ill. The first DHC in Kwai Tsing District has commenced operation at the end of last month. We will expedite the setting up of DHCs in all 18 districts. It is expected that within the term of the current government, DHCs in six more districts and interim “DHC Express” in the remaining 11districts will be established to provide health promotion, consultation and chronic disease are services.”
Paragraphs 38 & 39 suggested Strengthen support for patients with uncommon disorders and Means to shorten the recovery progress for workers injured at work. What is most important for us is on the issue of DHCs, which we have discussed here long time ago. In essence, there is no surprise for us. However, if you care to look at how DHCs work now on the reimbursement for Network Doctors, apart from fixed reimbursement to doctors, they allow copayment from patients so as to attract more doctors to join the scheme. DHCs stress on preventive medicine which we could not disagree. As such, I have joined the DHC in Kwai Tsing district in order to have the first hand experience. I hope some of you can join to see how it works. It seems that we are successful in fighting for copayment scheme in these DHCs. This is not like the General Outpatient Clinic PPP programme where no copayment is allowed whatsoever up to now. Now the Government seems to listen and response to our opinion.
Next topic which I have recently encountered is on the Residential Care Home Vaccination Programme (RVP) which is a subsidized vaccine scheme for the residential care centres, including elderly centres. Not too long ago on 9th October 2019, there was a briefing by the CHP on the new arrangement which included a lot of paper and computer work for the Visiting Medical Officer (VMO). I immediately challenged the new arrangement which is supposed to streamline the work and claim by the VMO and this was echoed by the majority of the attendees. We further threatened to resign from the voluntary work during the Q & A session. Few days later, out of a sudden, we received a notice from the CHP informing us that the new arrangement would go hand in hand with the old or traditional method which should be
familiar to all VMOs. I would say this is another issue of Government listening to our reasonable request.
The third and the most important issue I would like to highlight to your good selves is the latest result of election of Chairman for the Panel on Health Services of the Legislative Council. For the first time, we have a lady Chairman who is neither a Healthcare nor an Allied Healthcare Professional. To me and most of us, this is a dangerous sign to our profession. Would our professional autonomy be jeopardized? It seems most likely so by what this lady suggested recently to increase the number of doctors in Hong Kong by recruiting doctors from overseas without going through licensing examination. We would figure out if the Government is in agreement with this lady. Our Secretary for Food and Health would talk to us in our coming Sunday afternoon symposium in Princess Margaret Hospital on 17th November 2019, it would be good opportunity for you to join and to air your concerns to see if the Government would listen. It would be a tough war to fight if we still believe in one licensing examination for one common standard for all doctors in Hong Kong to safeguard our standard of medical care to our Hong Kong citizens.
Dr. Yeung Chiu Fat Henry