Cataract Surgeries Programme (CSP)
Noting the expanding aging population in Hong Kong, and in view of the steady increase in the number of cataract patients as well as a lengthening of waiting time to undertake cataract surgery in public hospitals over the past few years. Additional funding was earmarked by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2007 to implement a private-public partnership (PPP) pilot programme, named Cataract Surgeries Programme (CSP), to provide additional cataract surgeries to meet the growing service demand through a PPP delivery model.
Cataract Surgeries Programme
The programme commenced in February 2008 and achieved the target of delivering 10,000 cataract surgeries in 2010/11. In view of the positive response, additional funding was approved to provide 12,000 surgeries from 2011/12.
Patients who were put on HA clusters’ routine cataract surgery waiting lists on or before July 2012 and are suitable for local anaesthesia surgeries would be invited to participate in the programme, with priority to those who had waited longest on the waiting lists.
Under the programme, participating patients who choose to receive cataract surgeries performed by private ophthalmologists could receive a fixed amount of $5000 subsidy, and may need to co-pay an amount of not more than $8000 for the service package, which consists of one pre-operative assessment, the cataract surgery including intraocular lens, and two post-operative checks.
The programme gained positive attention and support from the private healthcare sector, a total of 110 private ophthalmologists joined CSP. Amongst 75,751 eligible patients who were invited in twenty-four batches, more than 19,600 patients had chosen to participate in the programme, and more than 14,900 participants had completed cataract surgeries under CSP as at June 2014.
The programme was also largely supported by both patients and private ophthalmologists, affirmative views were expressed in a survey conducted by an independent market research agency. Most agreed that the programme could provide more choices to patients and shorten waiting time to receive cataract surgeries.
Through telephone survey, participating patients are contacted and the surveyed result was very positive. As at June 2014, 4,414 participating patients had been randomly surveyed, 4,062 patients (92% of the surveyed patients) were satisfied with the programme while 4,322 patients (98% of the surveyed patients) agreed that CSP helped them to undergo surgery earlier.
CSP provided an alternative for eligible cataract patients to undertake cataract surgeries in the private healthcare sector, and helped other cataract patients indirectly by shortening the waiting list and notional waiting time in HA. It also helped to address the imbalance between public and private sectors in provision of healthcare services by enabling optimal use of the service capacity in the private sector, as well as creating a constructive channel to flow HA patients to the private sector on a voluntary basis through the PPP delivery model.
There are cataract patients who live alone, have mobility difficulties or other problems, with a need for extra assistance and support. In view of this, free volunteer escort service was implemented in October 2012, to arrange hospital volunteers to accompany participating patients to the private clinic to receive pre-operative assessment, cataract surgery, and post-operative checks.