Hospital off to a healthy start
A few dozen patients who sought treatment at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen hospital yesterday were turned away on the clinic's first-day trial.
But many patients expressed satisfaction with the primary healthcare clinic - the only department to open at the complex in Futian, Shenzhen, yesterday - although it accepted only pre-arranged bookings with a package fee of 130 yuan (HK$159) per consultation.
The new institution, which still had boxes of equipment and supplies lying in the lobby waiting to be unpacked, provided treatment to about 110 patients on its half-day trial run. Those who arrived without an appointment seeking specialist treatment were turned away.
'There are still a lot of small operational problems to be touched up, and the co-operation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen doctors has to be improved,' said Dr Leong Che-hung, the university council chairman. 'But overall the trial was satisfying.'
So far, the 3.5 billion yuan project, funded by the municipal government, had hired 31 doctors and 80 nurses, or about 80 per cent of the targeted total staff, he said. Other specialities and resuscitation rooms will be opened in subsequent phrases with the healthcare complex expected to be in full operation by the end of next year.
The new booking system and a fixed-price package for public hospital visits are among measures the mainland is taking to combat corruption and overcharging at hospitals.
The fixed 130 yuan price includes a booking fee, a check-up, the doctors' fee, general treatment and medicine for seven days. Extra fees are paid only if the patient is referred to a specialist. Under current practice on the mainland, the patient goes directly to a specialist for treatment.
'There is a big difference between the way mainland [and Hong Kong] hospitals work,' said Professor Grace Tang Wai-king, dean of the hospital. 'The patient may make a wrong judgment when seeking a specialist doctor on their own, while in fact 80 per cent of cases can be treated by general doctors. It is part of the culture we want to change on the mainland in their healthcare reform.'
Leong said the fixed price of 130 yuan would be reviewed after a six-month to one-year trial.
Reports in the Shenzhen media said the price for general treatment at a top healthcare institution averaged around 230 yuan per person over the past three years, but could vary depending on treatment.
Patients yesterday welcomed the one-off payment, which allows them to estimate the cost involved in their treatment.
'I am more confident in this hospital than others because it is managed by Hong Kong people', said one woman patient who was treated for a stomach ache. 'Patients are not allowed to give red packets [bribes] to the doctors working here, and I believe Hong Kong doctors have more morals in their profession,' she added.
'If I get to choose, I would like a Hong Kong doctor to treat me, as I believe their qualifications are more trustworthy.'
She also said the booking system allowed her to save a lot of waiting time.
'If I go to other hospitals, I may need to queue and wait for a whole day in a very congested environment,' she said. 'It gives me a feeling that this hospital is more humane and civilised than others.'
The healthcare complex will later provide services in five specialities on top of primary care, and will have 2,000 beds when fully open.
Seven professors from the University of Hong Kong, including head of surgery Dr Lo Chung-mau and head of microbiology Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, will be at the Shenzhen hospital to provide training to mainland doctors.
Total number of senior executives and doctors at eight government-run hospitals in Shenzhen recently arrested on bribery charges.