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Healthcare initiatives explained

Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan today briefed the representatives of the Hong Kong Academy of Nursing on the initiatives related to manpower and professional development of the healthcare sector in the 2021 Policy Address.   While noting that the healthcare system in Hong Kong is renowned for its quality and reliability, Prof Chan pointed out the challenges it faces, including the COVID-19 epidemic raging across the globe, an ageing population, the increasing number of diseases triggered by lifestyle choices and ever-rising public expectations towards healthcare services.   As stated by the Chief Executive in her Policy Address, sufficient healthcare manpower is a must to cope with these challenges, she said.   “The Government has been adopting a multi-pronged approach to enhance healthcare manpower, including increasing continuously the local healthcare training places offered by the University Grants Committee-funded universities and self-financing institutions and admitting non-locally trained healthcare professionals, with a view to supporting the development of various healthcare services.”   Prof Chan also said the roles of other healthcare professionals in the local healthcare system need to be strengthened, in particular in primary healthcare services.   She said the Food & Health Bureau will follow up at full speed on the legislation work to make continuing professional education and continuing professional development a mandatory requirement for supplementary medical professionals as well as for nurses and dentists as proposed in the Policy Address, with a view to assuring the professional competence of healthcare professionals.    Regarding the professional development of nurses, the health chief said the Nursing Council has accepted the bureau’s invitation to formulate and implement the Voluntary Scheme on Advanced & Specialised Nursing Practice.   Launched early this year, the scheme is open for application for 16 specialties. Prof Chan urged the council to encourage qualified nursing staff to submit applications.   Additionally, the Hospital Authority's new measure to create the rank of Associate Nurse Consultant in the nursing grade can provide an alternative promotion pathway for nurses aspiring to develop a career in specialty nursing apart from the existing clinical management stream.   “The new grade structure will also facilitate continuous development in the nursing profession and promote the standard of nursing services," she said.
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