Strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development in Hong Kong

13/04/2016

 

Following is a question by the Professor Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):

Question:

     The Government has mentioned in the 2016 Policy Address that it will soon complete the strategic review of healthcare manpower planning and professional development (the strategic review), and will gradually implement the recommendations of the strategic review, including the proposals on the regulatory regimes for healthcare professions.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that members of the pharmaceutical industry have proposed the establishment of two boards to replace the existing Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong, and to separately regulate registration of pharmacists and matters concerning pharmaceutical products, whether this proposal has been studied in the strategic review; if so, of the details and the outcome; if the outcome of the study supports such a proposal, of the implementation timetable; if the proposal has not been studied, the reasons for that;

(2) given that members of the supplementary medical professions have proposed that the chairmanships of the five boards under the Supplementary Medical Professions Council be taken up by members of the professions so as to enhance professional autonomy and promote development of the trades, whether this proposal has been studied in the strategic review; if so, of the details and the outcome; if the outcome of the study supports such a proposal, of the implementation timetable; if the proposal has not been studied, the reasons for that;

(3) given that, since 1997, members of the nursing sector have put forward a number of proposed amendments to The Nurses Registration Ordinance (Cap. 164), of the reasons why the authorities have not yet implemented such proposals, the details of their follow-up work and the timetable for implementing such proposals; and

(4) of the details of the strategic review conducted by the authorities in respect of the regulation of the 13 healthcare professions which are regulated by law, the specific proposals put forward and the timetable for implementing such proposals (set out in a table)?

Reply:

President,

     In response to the challenges of an ageing population and increasing demand for and higher expectations of healthcare services, the Government has set up a steering committee to conduct a strategic review on healthcare manpower planning and professional development in Hong Kong (the Review).  The Review aims to formulate recommendations that would better enable our society to meet the projected demand for healthcare manpower and foster professional development, with a view to ensuring the healthy and sustainable development of our healthcare system.

     The Review covers 13 healthcare disciplines which are subject to statutory regulation, namely medical practitioners, dentists, nurses, midwives, Chinese medicine practitioners, chiropractors, dental hygienists, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and radiographers.

     To assist the steering committee in making informed recommendations, the Government commissioned the University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to provide professional input and technical support for the Review.  The Government also set up six consultative sub-groups, namely Medical Sub-group, Dental Sub-group, Nursing and Midwifery Sub-group, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Sub-group, Pharmacists Sub-group and Other Healthcare Professionals Sub-group, under the steering committee to hear and consolidate views from the healthcare professions.

     My consolidated reply to the Professor Hon Joseph Lee's questions is as follows:

     The steering committee is reviewing the regulatory regimes of the above 13 healthcare professions which are subject to statutory regulation, and will make recommendations on the way forward based on the findings of the CUHK, including the prevalent international practices which gear towards more transparency, higher accountability and greater public participation, the local circumstances of Hong Kong which include public aspirations and concerns, as well as the history and development of statutory regulatory bodies.

     Key areas of the review include:

(a) functions of the statutory regulatory bodies;

(b) membership of the statutory regulatory bodies, in particular, the number and proportion of lay members;

(c) arrangements for non-locally trained healthcare professionals to practise in Hong Kong;

(d) complaint handling and disciplinary inquiry mechanism; and

(e) training and development, in particular, mandatory continuous professional education and development.

     As mentioned above, the Review covers the functions and composition of the statutory regulatory bodies, including the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong as well as the Supplementary Medical Professions Council and its boards.  The steering committee agrees that the prevalent legislation which governs the healthcare professions, such as the Nurses Registration Ordinance, should keep pace with the times and should be comprehensively reviewed.

     We expect that the Review will be completed in mid-2016.  Upon its completion, the Government will publish the review report and consult stakeholders on how to take forward the relevant recommendations accordingly.

 

 
Last Updated 2016-04-13