I have no regrets, says departing hospitals chief

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 December, 2004, 12:00am

Ko Wing-man recalls Sars stress as he prepares to enter private practice

The outgoing hospitals chief said he had no regrets over decisions he made during the Sars outbreak and admitted that a Legco inquiry had triggered his departure.

Ko Wing-man, the Hospital Authority's director of professional services and human resources, will switch to private practice after serving the public health system for 24 years. He is one of the three senior health officials who stepped down after the release of the Legco Sars report in July, which criticised the government and the authority's handling of the epidemic.

Former health minister Yeoh Eng-kiong and former Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung also quit.

Meeting the press yesterday before his departure at the end of the month, Dr Ko became emotional when he recalled the outbreak that killed 299 people.

'While you are in a public post, you are always prepared to face different views and criticism. No matter what you think about their views subjectively, you have to face them with a humble manner.

'I will not say every single decision I made was perfect ... some decisions were not that good. But so far, I have not found any decision I should regret.'

He admitted that the Legco Sars report was one of the factors prompting his departure. 'It is not an impulsive decision. For a long time, I was thinking about which point I should go back to becoming a [frontline] doctor again. I miss the time when I could serve individual patients.'

Dr Ko also explained why he broke into tears in front of cameras in July when Dr Leong announced his resignation.

'At the time, we had two leaders of the health-care system [Dr Leong and Dr Yeoh] leaving. I felt very sad about it. At that moment, I was most moved by Dr Leong's devotion and commitment.'

Dr Ko initially tried to quit in April last year after being criticised by former radio talk-show host Albert Cheng King-hon for his handling of the Sars outbreak while standing in for authority chief executive William Ho Shiu-wei, who was ill with the disease.

Dr Ko was an orthopaedic surgeon at Princess Margaret Hospital before joining the authority in 1990. His post will be filled by New Territories West cluster chief executive Cheung Wai-lun.