The Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, met with patients' groups to listen to their views and concerns on various medical and healthcare matters last Saturday. Over 30 representatives from 20 patient groups attended the meeting.

Chan emphasised that the government attaches great importance to healthcare services. "The Chief Executive has outlined the major direction and areas of healthcare policies in the Policy Address, including making all-out efforts in promoting primary healthcare and continuing to improve public healthcare services and facilities," she said.

"We have just established the Steering Committee on Primary Healthcare Development last month to develop a blueprint for the sustainable development of primary healthcare services for Hong Kong. The Steering Committee will comprehensively review the existing planning of primary healthcare services and devise service models to provide primary healthcare services via district-based medical-social collaboration in the community."

In response to the groups' demand on the support for patients with uncommon diseases, Chan said that the government and the Hospital Authority (HA) will extend the scope of assistance programmes under the Community Care Fund (CCF), and the HA will also expedite the review of the patients' co-payment mechanism under the CCF. The Drug Management Committee under the HA and the relevant committees will monitor closely the research developments and medical scientific evidence of new drugs in order to let the needy patients, including those with uncommon diseases, receive early treatment.

In addition, the government will implement the recommendations made by the review of healthcare manpower planning and professional development with a view to ensuring sufficient manpower to meet the demand of medical services and fostering their professional development. Relevant initiatives include considering increasing the training places of government-funded healthcare professionals, strengthening the manpower of the HA, upgrading the healthcare manpower training system and utilising multi-disciplinary healthcare professional teams by, for example, setting up more nurse clinics under the HA and enhancing the services of existing nurse clinics.

Sophia Chan in patient group meeting

On mental health, the government established the Advisory Committee on Mental Health last month to provide advice on mental health policies, including the establishment of more integral and comprehensive approaches to tackle multi-faceted mental health issues in Hong Kong.

The government will also optimise public health regulation and promote advancements in medical technology. The Food and Health Bureau set up a dedicated unit to promote the development of Chinese medicines and co-ordinate and implement the strategies and measures for promoting the development of Chinese medicines. MIMS

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