Charges double for non-locals' A&E births
Public hospitals are to charge HK$90,000 for last-minute deliveries of babies by non-local mothers in accident and emergency wards from today. Critics said the price increase alone would not deter mainland women from giving birth in the city to gain the right of abode for their children.
The rise of almost 90 per cent - the charge has been HK$48,000 until now - was gazetted yesterday.
'This minimum rate covers the charges for the delivery and the first three days of hospitalisation in general wards [ie. a two-night stay] for the delivery concerned,' the Hospital Authority said.
The charge for giving birth with a prior booking in a public hospital obstetrics ward will stay at HK$39,000; however, the entire quota for such births for non-local mothers for this year is taken.
The price rise is the latest measure intended to curb the influx of mainland mothers-to-be, especially those without bookings who dash to emergency wards for a last-minute delivery. Last year, 1,657 mainland women did so.
Neither public nor private hospitals will allow bookings of beds in their maternity wards next year by mainland women unless they are married to Hong Kong men, after chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying and the Food and Health Bureau announced a 'zero quota' policy.
But a Medical Association council member, Dr Chow Pak-chin, said the influx would not stop unless the issue of right of abode for children born in the city was addressed.
Almost 40 per cent of the 90,000 babies delivered last year were born to parents neither of whom was local. The fact the Basic Law confers right of abode on children born in Hong Kong regardless of their parents' status is believed to be the main reason mainland women give birth in the city.
'The zero quota and a price raise are not adequate. The right of abode issue should be tackled so that the influx could be stopped,' Chow said.
The number of babies born in Hong Kong hospitals last year to parents neither of whom was local