Budget 2019/20: Government fails to increase resources for the elderly
Five hundred residential care places and 300 subsidised day care places for the elderly will be provided in the next two years as a solution to the ageing Hong Kong society, announced Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po during today's budget speech.
"It is obviously not enough. The number of waiting participants is much more than the given places, but it is better than none," said Hung Kam In, district council member for Po Tat in Kwun Tong.
There are currently 40,630 people on the waiting list for residential places in elderly care centres. Those wanting government subsidised spots wait 39 months on average, while those on the list for private homes wait 10 months, according to the Social Welfare Department.
According to the Hong Kong Population Projections, the elderly population is estimated to rise to 19 percent of the population in 2021, meaning there would be more than 1.4 million elderly people.
The limitations of medical care are also becoming increasingly serious as the population ages. Many elderly people rely on public health care, leading to long waiting times for treatment in public hospitals.
There are 50,731 patients waiting for cataract surgery in public hospitals, according to the Hospital Authority, with an average waiting time for cataract surgery of 19 months. The longest expected waiting time is two years and four months in the New Territory West District.
Cataracts are a common geriatric disease, mostly diagnosed in patients above the age of 60. The HA expects that the demand for surgery will continue to grow with an estimated 21,000 new cases per year.
Mr. Chan said during the press conference that "in terms of medical training, I expect more trainees doctors to work at public hospitals."
Mr. Hung said that the government should loosen up the rules on license conversion for foreign medical professionals to solve the problem of a long waiting time for public medical service.
Extra one month allowance to recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance old age allowance, old age living allowance and disability allowance will be provided. The government will also provide a one-off additional $1,000 worth of Elderly Health Care Vouchers and increase the accumulation limit of vouchers to $8,000.
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