CY Leung policy address 2014

Leung ready to treat city to its first TCM hospital

C.Y. also set to announce major regular hospital for Kai Tak, and give elderly a helping hand

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 3:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 8:16am

The establishment of the city's first traditional Chinese medicine hospital, a major new hospital at Kai Tak and health-care initiatives for the elderly are expected to be announced in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's second policy address today, the South China Morning Post has learned.

But the focus on medical care will stop short of offering any groundbreaking proposals to help deal with the pressure on health services caused by an ageing population - it is predicted that about a third of Hongkongers will be aged 65 or above by 2041.

There have been calls for a traditional Chinese medicine hospital to be set up in Hong Kong for years, with Baptist University wanting to develop a major TCM teaching hospital adjacent to its School of Chinese Medicine, on the southern part of the former Lee Wai Lee campus.

At present the government has asked to rezone part of the site for housing purposes.

One of its postgraduate students, German-born Marcus Gadau, remarked last year that there were more than five Chinese medicine hospitals in Germany and none in Hong Kong.

The new 2,000-bed hospital in Kai Tak will have an emergency department and is expected to cost the government tens of billion of dollars, "but the site has yet to be determined", according to a government source.

At first, it is expected to be used as a temporary home for Jordan's Queen Elizabeth Hospital which, at half a century old, is in desperate need of renovation.

The two new initiatives for the elderly involve a subsidy towards the cost of colon cancer screening and a doubling in the value of a voucher scheme to help the over seventies pay for private health-care services.

The first initiative targets one of the most common cancers among Hongkongers. There are about 4,000 new cases of colon cancer every year, second only to lung cancer. How much the subsidy is expected to cost is not yet known.

The voucher scheme is a product of Leung's first policy address last year, when he set up a HK$12 million fund to give the elderly HK$1,000 for private treatment and check-ups. This is now expected to rise to HK$2,000.

Leung is not expected to reveal details about the planned Health Protection Scheme medical insurance reforms, leaving that in the hands of the Food and Health Bureau, which is due to launch a consultation exercise on the plans this year.

The government has voiced hopes that this scheme will address the needs of an ageing society, switching more patients over to private health care and taking the pressure off public hospitals, where 40 per cent of the city's doctors are responsible for caring for 90 per cent of patients.

The other 10 per cent are cared for in the private health-care sector, by 60 per cent of the city's doctors.

On average, people aged 65 and above use six times more inpatient resources than the rest of the population.