Australian external accreditors who will assess public and private hospitals will mostly be based in Hong Kong under a HK$10 million pilot project to enhance patient safety. Five public hospitals and three private ones are joining the pilot program to be administered by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards that has just begun. The Australian agency won the bid in competition against several accreditation agencies from the United States and Britain.
Hospital Authority’s Pang Fei-chau says, "With rising public expectations and globalization of health-care standards, the Hospital Authority will adopt a transparent approach in driving quality improvement and patient safety. It lays down the foundation for pursuing hospital accreditation."
The public hospitals in the pilot scheme are Caritas Medical Center, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and Tuen Mun. From the private sector are Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, Union and Baptist. Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital has been using the Australian council for three years and Trent system for longer. A hospital will only be awarded accreditation after having achieved "moderate achievement" for all 14 mandatory criteria and having demonstrated no major risk. Forty surveyors from the pilot scheme hospitals will be trained to help with transfer of knowledge, techniques and understanding.
Alan Lau Kwok-lam of the Hong Kong Private Hospitals Association, explains why the Australian council was chosen;” Its biggest advantage is continued quality improvement as they have a team in Hong Kong most of the time. By basing the team in Hong Kong, their presence will help us to understand the process of accreditation much better. The city's 13 private hospitals will still maintain the UK's Trent Accreditation Scheme. You can be marked by one agency, you can be marked by another. We have been working with Trent for almost 12 years now and we feel comfortable with it. It is something that we feel can help us with our standards."
The government continues to promote the development of Chinese medicine by funding research projects. There is no uniform set of criteria internationally for the setting of standards for Chinese medicine, so Hong Kong is leading the way. The Hong Kong Accreditation Service (HKAS) provides accreditation for laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies in Hong Kong. Under the mutual recognition arrangements made with international accreditation authorities, the accreditation given to testing and certification agencies by HKAS is recognised by 72 accreditation authorities (including the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment) in 54 economies.
There are 6120 registered Chinese medicine practitioners. Patients who need to be hospitalised or suffer from severe illnesses are treated by Western medical practitioners with Chinese medicine a supplementary role. There is increasing demand for Chinese medicine services from members of the public. The Hospital Authority is trying out different models of Chinese and Western medicines shared care services in various hospitals.