21st September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Health Bureau (HHB) has announced a significant change in the eligibility criteria for doctors participating in government-subsidised primary healthcare programmes. Starting from 6th October, only doctors enlisted in the Primary Care Directory will be allowed to take part in various programmes, including the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme (EHVS), the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme (CRCSP), and the General Outpatient Clinic Public-Private Partnership Programme (GOPC PPP).
This decision aligns with the government’s efforts to develop primary healthcare services. Doctors who are not enlisted in the Directory by the end of the two-month grace period, which concludes on 6th December, will no longer be able to offer subsidised services under these programmes to their patients.
To ensure continuity of care, members of the public benefiting from the subsidised programmes are advised to confirm whether their doctors are enlisted in the Directory. This can be done by contacting their doctors directly or checking the Directory online. By doing so, individuals can ensure they can continue receiving relevant subsidised services through their chosen doctor in the future.
Currently, doctors participating in government-subsidised programmes such as the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme, the Residential Care Home Vaccination Programme, District Health Centre services, and the upcoming Chronic Disease Co-Care Pilot Scheme are already required to be enlisted in the Directory. The Primary Healthcare Blueprint recommends the compulsory enlistment of all healthcare professionals providing primary healthcare services in the Directory.
The government aims to standardise arrangements across various subsidised programmes, ensuring that participating doctors receive continuing medical education relevant to their disciplines. This move enhances the quality assurance of primary healthcare services. In the future, the requirement for enlistment in the Directory will gradually extend to other primary healthcare professionals.
To mitigate the impact on service users, the HHB has been informing doctors participating in the EHVS, the CRCSP, and the GOPC PPP about the new arrangement since March. The HHB has also provided assistance to doctors during the enrolment process. A two-month grace period has been set to facilitate the transition for both doctors and their patients.
The government urges doctors intending to continue engaging in these three subsidised programmes to complete the enrolment process as early as possible. Doctors who are not enlisted in the Directory after the grace period will no longer be permitted to participate in these subsidised programmes, resulting in their patients being unable to access the relevant subsidised services.
Citizens can check whether their doctors are enlisted in the Directory through the online platform at apps.pcdirectory.gov.hk/public/EN, in addition to approaching their doctors directly.
The Primary Care Directory serves as a web-based database containing practice information and professional qualifications of primary healthcare service providers. It enables the public to access information about service providers, including practice addresses, telephone numbers, consultation hours, service provisions, and participation in government-subsidised programmes. Citizens can refer to this information when selecting a doctor, dentist, or Chinese medicine practitioner that suits their personal needs.
As of the end of August, 3,337 doctors were enlisted in the Directory. The government encourages all general practitioners and specialists providing primary healthcare services to join the Directory and offer citizens coordinated and person-centred primary healthcare services in a comprehensive and continuous manner.