Govt marshals resources to fight flu
Hong Kong’s health chief will allocate an additional 8,000 consultation slots to general out-patient clinics under the Hospital Authority (HA) before the end of September so more patients can receive timely treatment during the peak flu season.
Speaking during a media gathering on Wednesday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siuchee said the extra consultations applied to both morning and evening outpatient services.
She did not reveal the exact number of slots each hospital will receive, or the date consultations will be given out. Chan said the HA would announce these details later.
The city is experiencing the summer peak flu season, with thousands of people seeking medical help at public hospitals. The HA’s latest figure showed that on Tuesday 4,906 patients were treated in public hospitals’ emergency rooms. Among them 864 were sent to medical wards, bringing the occupancy rate to 108 percent.
The HA told China Daily there were more than 6 million consultation slots in the city’s general out-patient clinics on offer every year — 23,000 per weekday.
Chan also revealed that negotiations with a private institution — St Teresa’s Hospital in Kowloon City — to handle extra public hospital patients were making “good process” but details were still being finalized.
The private hospital is required in its land lease to have “low-cost” medical beds, Chan said. Currently, the hospital has 101 “lowcost” beds, each charging HK$120 per day.
Adventist Hospital in Tsuen Wan, which has 60 “low-cost” beds, is another private institution the government turned to for help, Chan added.
The HA will announce details such as how many beds would be on offer, the cost of using the beds in private hospitals and which kind of patients are entitled to enjoy the services. Chan expected the announcement would be made this week.
The government has also sent letters to doctors employed by the Department of Health, inviting them to work part-time in public hospitals, Chan said. She did not know how many doctors would be involved.
Currently, some 300 parttime doctors and 2,000 parttime nurses are working in public hospitals, according to Chan.
On top of acquiring external help, which Chan called “supplementary means”, the government also made an effort to improve services provided by the public hospitals, as this would be “more effective and practical”.
Chan said the government has approached the Social Welfare Department to provide rooms for patients who are ready to be discharged but waiting for someone to pick them up, such as senior citizens living in nursing homes.
New patients could have beds more quickly this way, Chan explained.
The government has approached the Social Welfare Department to provide rooms for patients who are ready to be discharged but waiting for someone to pick them up.” Sophia Chan Siu-chee, secretary for food and health