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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

Private hospital deeds amended

The Government today amended the service deeds with Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong and CUHK Medical Centre to enhance the packaged charging and hospital bed requirements, encouraging private hospitals to offer day and inpatient services with more transparency in pricing.


The Government has been adopting a set of minimum requirements for new private hospital developments on government sites since 2011. For expansion or redevelopment, the private hospitals are also invited to consider accepting the minimum requirements if a lease modification is involved.


As part of the minimum requirements, private hospitals are required to provide a certain proportion of services at packaged charging to enhance price transparency and certainty.


The amended service deeds cover not only inpatient services but also day cases, encouraging private hospitals to provide more day services at packaged charging to reduce patients' medical costs.


Regarding inpatient services, the Government also imposes a new requirement that at least 70% of the total number of operational inpatient beds in a private hospital should be provided as standard beds. This ensures the adequate supply of more affordable hospital beds for patients' choice.


Also introduced under the amendments is a service remedy mechanism. If a private hospital fails to meet the service deed requirements, it must provide services to patients referred by the Hospital Authority at a fee equivalent to the authority's standard fees and charges.


The authority is currently working out the detailed arrangements with the two private hospitals on the service remedy mechanism, with the aim of launching the service referral in the first quarter of next year. The referral may cover items such as inpatient services, day procedures, specialist outpatient consultations as well as diagnostic imaging.

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