Radical reforms of Hong Kong’s health care system are long overdue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 January, 2018, 10:54pm

The government has again highlighted public-private partnership and mandatory medical insurance as key elements in a reform of Hong Kong’s health care system.

However, over the past few years, there has been little progress when it comes to implementation of various proposed initiatives that would see the necessary improvements. Instead of things getting better, we are seeing a deterioration of service quality in our public hospitals, with, for example, an increase in the number of medical incidents and overcrowding in wards, especially accident and emergency departments.

In addition, an increasing number of experienced doctors are leaving public hospitals to join the lucrative private sector (“Exodus of public doctors hits new peak”, January 8). Therefore, many people believe that the government’s promised goals of service improvements are nothing more than empty talk.

There is no time for us to wait and see if its plans for improvements will bear fruit. New measures to make the necessary changes in public hospitals need to be implemented as soon as possible. If they are not and standards continue to deteriorate, we could end up with a public health care system that is comparable to one in a developing nation.

During the flu outbreak in the summer, the government rented beds from private hospitals to alleviate peak service demand in public hospitals. The government deserves praise for what was a good initiative and I support moves to expand it.

I would also like to see the government introduce a pilot scheme to provide cash reimbursements for civil servants who seek treatment for common and seasonal diseases from private clinics or hospitals. This will allow limited public health care resources to be redeployed to the public.

Goldman Chan, Sham Shui Po