Following is a
question by the Professor the Hon Joseph Lee and a written reply by
the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative
Council today (April 20):
non-emergency ambulance transfer service (NEATS) of the Hospital
Authority (HA) mainly provides point-to-point transport service for
geriatric day hospital patients, discharged patients and specialist
out-patient clinic patients in need of such service.
In reply to my question on June 30, 2010, the authorities
indicated that HA would keep NEATS under review having regard to the
service demand. In this
connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
(1) whether the
utilisation rate of the aforesaid service has increased since 2010,
and set out, by year and hospital cluster, the average daily
person-times using the service and the average waiting time, since
number of non-emergency ambulances, their average age and the number
of those which had been in use for over 10 years, in each year since
2010, with a breakdown by hospital cluster, and (ii) whether HA has
increased the number of non-emergency ambulances since 2010; if so,
(3) the number
of cases of and causes for non-emergency ambulances being late for
picking up patients, and the number of relevant complaints received by
HA, since 2010; if such information is unavailable, whether HA will
consider keeping such records; and
(4) whether HA
assessed in the past three years if NEATS was sufficient to meet the
demand; if HA did and the outcome was in the negative, whether HA has
planned to increase the number of non-emergency ambulances, replace
those ambulances which have been in use for over 10 years and recruit
additional manpower so as to enhance the efficiency of such service;
if HA has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
reply to Professor the Hon Joseph Lee's question on the provision of
non-emergency ambulance transfer service (NEATS) by the Hospital
Authority (HA) is as follows:
(1) The NEATS is
a point-to-point transfer service (i.e. between patients' residence
and hospitals or specialist clinics) provided by HA primarily for
mobility-handicapped patients who are unable to take public transport
such as buses, taxis and Rehabus.
HA assesses the use of NEATS based on the overall number of
transfers in all clusters in a year.
Annex 1 sets out the overall number of transfers provided
through NEATS in each year from 2010-11.
The figures show a rising trend in the overall number of
transfers provided through NEATS in the past six years.
Overall number of transfers provided
through Hospital Authority’s non-emergency ambulance transfer service
* The figures of February and March 2016 are projections based on
that of January 2016
committed to improving the waiting time for NEATS.
Since 2012-13, HA has reduced the waiting time of 75% of
patients who are ready for discharge and have made bookings for NEATS
from the standard of 90 minutes or less to 60 minutes or less.
Since 2013-14, HA has also reduced the waiting time of 85% of
patients who are ready for inter-hospital transfer and have made
bookings for NEATS from the standard of 90 minutes or less to 60
minutes or less.
(2) and (4) HA
always endeavours to improve the provision of NEATS.
The number of NEATS vehicles has increased from 133 in 2010-11
to 198 in 2015-16.
Currently, the average age of the fleet is 5.8 years, and there are 17
vehicles which are over 10 years of age.
Among these vehicles with over 10 years of age, nine will be
replaced in 2016-17 and the remaining eight will be gradually replaced
afterwards. Moreover, HA
plans to introduce 14 additional NEATS vehicles in 2016-17, bringing
the number of vehicles in the NEATS fleet to 212.
Furthermore, in order to meet the increasing demand for the service,
HA has increased the manpower for the provision of NEATS by 83% from
353 in 2009-10 to 647 in 2015-16.
keep the operation of NEATS under review having regard to the service
(3) Annex 2 sets
out the number of complaints received by HA on delay in NEATS since
Number of complaints received by Hospital Authority on delay in
non-emergency ambulance transfer service
optimise the use of resources, NEATS users are transferred in groups
and patients making similar journeys will share the same vehicle as
far as possible. This may
result in a longer journey time, and the service may be delayed
occasionally due to traffic congestion.
Nonetheless, HA will continue to monitor and enhance the
provision of NEATS to meet patients' needs.