Hong Kong’s Healthcare System

Over the years, Hong Kong has developed a highly efficient healthcare system and achieved impressive health outcomes for its population. The standard and quality of our system enjoys renowned international standing, stays at the forefront of advances in medical technology, and compares favourably with other advanced economies.

The public hospital system provides the population with equitable access to healthcare services with well recognized quality at very affordable price. The private sector, on the other hand, provides a variety of choice of different healthcare services, including affordable primary medical care as well as a range of specialist and hospital care.

The system is supported by teams of dedicated healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with high professional and ethical standards.

The organisational framework of the healthcare system of Hong Kong includes the following three bodies:

  • Food and Health Bureau - The Food and Health Bureau formulates policies and allocates resources for healthcare services in Hong Kong, with the aim of protecting and promoting public health, providing lifelong holistic care to every resident and ensuring no one is denied medical help due to lack of means.
  • Department of Health - The Department of Health is the government’s health adviser and executes policies and statutory functions. It safeguards the community’s health through a range of promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services.
  • Hospital Authority - The Hospital Authority, established under the Hospital Authority Ordinance, provides public hospital and related services. It offers medical treatment and rehabilitation services through hospitals, specialist clinics, general outpatient clinics and outreach services organised into seven clusters that together serve the whole city.

Allied Health Services and Manpower Needs

Allied health professionals working under the Hospital Authority include audiologists, clinical psychologists, dietitians, occupational therapists, optometrists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, speech therapists, pharmacists, dispensers, radiographers, medical laboratory technologists and medical social workers. They provide rehabilitative and extended care to help patients receiving inpatient, outpatient, ambulatory and community care services to reintegrate into society.

The private care sector also employs a number of occupational therapists, optometrists, physiotherapists, pharmacists and other allied health professionals for provision of a range of specialist and hospital services.

As at the end of 2019, 2 403 occupational therapists, 2 250 optometrists, 3 510 physiotherapists, 3 001 pharmacists, 2 479 radiographers, 3 862 medical laboratory technologists and 495 dental hygienists were registered in Hong Kong. To ensure the healthy and sustainable development of Hong Kong’s healthcare system, we need more qualified allied health professionals to join the healthcare workforce in Hong Kong. While locally-trained allied health professionals should, in general, be the major source of supply, they should be complemented by qualified non-locally trained allied health professionals to address gap in service demand as well as enhance the cultural diversity and international perspective of our healthcare workforce.

Registration of Allied Health Professionals

Under the legislation of Hong Kong, there are seven disciplines of allied health professionals, namely pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technologists, optometrists, radiographers and dental hygienists that are required to be registered with their respective boards or councils before they are allowed to practice in Hong Kong.

Boards and councils established under relevent ordinances of the seven disciplines of allied health professionals are as follows: