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Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine

Scientific Symposium of Emergency Medicine

(20 October 2017)

SFH’s Opening Remarks

Dr Ho[1], Dr Lam[2], Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

                        Good morning!  It is my honour to join you all at the annual Scientific Symposium on Emergency Medicine.  The theme of the Symposium, “Geriatric Emergency Care: Embracing the Challenges”, rightly reflects the rising importance of healthcare for the elderly in the midst of the ageing population in Hong Kong.

2.                     The population around the world is ageing rapidly and Hong Kong is of no exception.  According to the projection results announced last month, the number of elderly persons aged 65 or above will be doubled, increasing from 1.16 million last year to 2.37 million in 2036. Hong Kong will also experience a continuous increase in life expectancy.  In 2016, the expectation of life at birth was 81.3 years for males and 87.3 for females.  In 2066 or fifty years later, the expectation of life at birth is projected to be 87.1 years for males and 93.1 years for females.  The ageing demographic trend is already giving rise to the surging demand for elderly healthcare, including increasing demand for Accident & Emergency (A&E) and inpatient services. 

3.                     In face of these challenges, the Government will deploy sufficient resources and enhance the supporting infrastructure to keep improving the healthcare services and facilities provided by the public sector.  The Government and the Hospital Authority will press ahead with the delivery of the 10-year Public Hospital Development Plan, for which $200 billion has been earmarked and kick-start the next round of public hospital development planning in the coming five years.

4.              The A&E Departments are the forefronts of our hospitals.  In view of the increasing elderly attendance, collaboration with the Geriatrics Departments would be necessary to strengthen our geriatric emergency care, relieve and reduce avoidable hospitalisation and A&E re-attendance, shorten waiting time during surge season and improve patient experience.

5.                Currently, in our acute hospitals, there have been various integrative and multidisciplinary service models in place that suit their local situation for geriatric care in the A&E Departments.  The Hospital Authority has also conducted a pilot programme whereby geriatricians conduct rapid assessment and treatment for elder patients at the A&E Departments, as well as devising devise care plans.  This initiative aims at reducing unnecessary hospitalisation and facilitating timely referrals of patients to the most appropriate care settings, such as non-acute hospitals or elderly homes.  We shall closely monitor the effectiveness of the pilot programme before determining the way forward.

6.                Furthermore, emergency physicians are the backbones of the A&E Departments.  We need to equip them with a breadth of knowledge in order for them to be competent in managing the various acute and life threatening situations.  They also need to give advice and direction for clinical management or referral.  As such, structured professional training and development opportunities would be crucial to nurture our emergency physicians to uphold the quality of professional practice and ensure sustainable long term development of emergency medicine.

7.                Since its establishment in1996, the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine has made sterling contribution to the enhancement of professional standards in emergency medicine and has taken a leading role in promoting the development of emergency medicine services in Hong Kong.

8.              I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine for organising this symposium for us to learn together, foster collaboration, and exchange ideas for providing quality geriatric emergency care to our elderly population.  I am confident that you will bring home new ideas at the end of the day and help enhance geriatric emergency care in Hong Kong.

9.                      Last not but least, as the Secretary for Food and Health, to safeguard public health, provide quality medical services, ensure food safety and environmental hygiene will be top priorities on my health agenda.  My team and I will continue to work hard for the betterment of Hong Kong.  

10.           Thank you.

[1] Dr Ho Hiu-fai, President, Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine

[2] Dr Lam Kin-kwan, Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Scientific Symposium on Emergency Medicine