Council Meetings (Oral Question): Patients Waiting at the Accident and Emergency Departments for Transfer to the Wards (2021.03.24)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): The A&E departments are now often full, resulting in hectic workloads. Under tremendous stress at work, the nurses responsible for triage are actually prone to slip-ups despite being extensively attentive. I would like to ask whether HA has taken the initiative to study the data to see if some members of the public treat the A&E departments as clinics for chronic diseases and are regular visitors there. If it has, I hold that it should take the initiative to contact those patients and arrange for them to receive treatment somewhere other than the A&E departments. This arrangement serves them better on the one hand, and would not hinder other members of the public in genuine need of A&E services on the other. What is the Government’s view on this?

SECRETARY FOR FOOD AND HEALTH (in Cantonese): President, regarding the different categories mentioned by Mr CHAN, we actually have some statistics. A look at the numbers for the past five years reveals that Triage Categories I, II and III, namely critical, emergency and urgent cases, account for about 40% of the A&E attendances. In other words, about 60% of the attendances belong to Triage Categories IV and V, namely semi-urgent and non-urgent cases. This figure also shows that some people who are not in very urgent conditions may also seek treatment at the A&E departments, one of the reasons being that A&E services are available around the clock. If we fail to do better in primary healthcare services, this situation will arise, which is exactly what we do not want to see.

For this reason, the current-term Government is vigorously promoting the development of primary healthcare services. In addition to those District Health Centres (“DHCs”) already set up, we will continue to develop DHCs and DHC Express across every district in the future. We will also work with private doctors in the district and establish a network in order to hopefully deal with non-urgent cases that do not require A&E attendance.

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