PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 1997, 12:00am

Your report headlined, 'Patients forced to fly to Japan for brain surgery' (Sunday Morning Post, August 3), needs clarification. Although the Gamma Knife Centre at Canossa Hospital is privately run, it is our policy to make certain that no patient in Hong Kong who requires the treatment be barred from the facility because of lack of means.

All referrals from the Hospital Authority (HA) are charged at least 15 per cent less than private patients.

In addition, pre-operative consultation and daily attendance fees are waived.

The first follow-up Magnetic Resonant Imaging (MR) brain scan is complimentary.

Such a pricing policy compares well with other gamma knife sites in the world.

In contrast to some centres in Japan and around Asia, the Hong Kong centre has always used the most advanced technological upgrades such as the latest version of the treatment planning system, and DICOM III (Digital Imaging for Communication in Medicine) as part and parcel of the treatment. Most patients who have had gamma knife radiosurgery do not require second treatment. For certain rare indications, we usually allow three years to pass before we consider second treatment.

Hence our pricing policy which was set 2.5 years ago, did not have provision for second or third treatment.

In July of this year, we agreed with Hospital Authority representatives that if a patient needs a multi-staged treatment, the total cost should not exceed 150 per cent of one single treatment.

Although patients from the authority have been put on to a waiting list, we have always been flexible for urgent cases. One recent patient from Tuen Mun Hospital received treatment two weeks after referral. Sometimes, private patients wait even longer.

Apart from the Samaritan Fund, needy patients can also apply for other charitable funds which have financed 37 patients in the past 30 months. This group of patients is given additional reduction of cost up to 70 per cent. The Gamma Knife Centre has also, in the past, waived all professional charges in special circumstances.

Any patient who after proper assessment needs gamma knife treatment but cannot find the means to finance it, can either contact the Hospital Authority representative or the Gamma Knife Centre directly.

C.P. YU ROBERT HO Medical Directors Gamma Knife Centre Canossa Hospital