Bed occupancy rates and deployment of nursing manpower during winter surge of influenza

1/3/2017

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 (March 1):

Question:

     In reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on the 8th of last month, the Government advised that the in-patient bed occupancy rates in the medical wards of various public hospitals generally exceeded 100% during the winter surge of influenza, i.e. the period from December each year to April of the following year.  Some members of the public are concerned about whether the deployment of additional nurses to medical wards by the Hospital Authority during that period has aggravated the shortage of nursing manpower in other wards.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following in the past three months, i.e. from December last year to the end of last month:

(1) in respect of the medical, paediatric and geriatric wards of various acute hospitals, their respective (i) average in-patient bed occupancy rates and (ii) average numbers of nurses on duty per ward per shift (with a breakdown by rank); and

(2) in respect of the medical, paediatric and geriatric wards of various convalescent hospitals, their respective (i) average in-patient bed occupancy rates and (ii) average numbers of nurses on duty per ward per shift (with a breakdown by rank)?

Reply:

President,

     My consolidated reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Professor Hon Joseph Lee relating to the bed occupancy rates and nursing manpower in public hospitals during winter surge of influenza is given below.  

     Annex 1 sets out the medical (including geriatrics department) and paediatric in-patient bed occupancy rates from November 2016 to January 2017 in hospitals under the Hospital Authority (HA) with accident and emergency (A&E) department.

     Generally speaking, the HA arranges clinical services for patients on a cluster basis. Hence, the patient journey may involve different healthcare units within the same cluster, for example, acute hospital and rehabilitation hospital.  As such, service indicators such as in-patient bed occupancy rate at cluster level instead of at hospital level can better reflect the actual service utilisation.  Against this background, the medical and paediatric in-patient bed occupancy rates by cluster (instead of by rehabilitation hospital) from November 2016 to January 2017 are set out at Annex 2.

     As the size of wards and the number of beds vary across different hospitals, the number of nurses on duty in a ward per shift also varies.  In general, there is an increase in the number of nurses in medical and paediatric wards as compared with the same period last year.  The number of nurses in the HA as at December 31, 2016 and its comparison with the same period in 2015 are set out at Annex 3.

Annex 1

Annex 2

Annex 3

Last Updated 2017-3-1