HKU's surgeons earned HK$13.77m

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

The University of Hong Kong's top surgeons earned HK$13.77 million for their department through private patient consultations in 2005-06.

Of this, 85 per cent was spent on their department's research and development, and overseas academic exchanges. The remainder went into other department expenses.

The numbers were given to the Legislative Council yesterday by the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau in 19 pages of statistics in answer to a question from medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki. They were provided by the surgery departments of the faculties of medicine at the HKU and Chinese University.

The HKU surgery department spent HK$9.6 million on academic research and HK$2.13 million on sending professors to overseas seminars.

Dr Kwok has been critical of private patients' fee sharing arrangements of the teaching professors' since it was revealed that HKU had set up an internal inquiry into billing irregularities for private patient services at its faculty of medicine.

HKU announced last month that a four-member committee of inquiry was set up in January to investigate complaints. The Hospital Authority also is investigating bills dating back over three years.

The moves came after the announcement of the resignation of the dean of medicine, Lam Shiu-kum.

Chinese University surgeons earned HK$14.6 million in the financial year to March last year, but spent HK$10.9 million of that on the department of surgery. Its faculty of medicine did not provide a breakdown for how the income was used.

HKU's obstetricians came second in income-generation, with HK$5.68 million from 2,428 private consultations. HK$4.2 million was put back into academic research and HK$133,330 spent on overseas seminars. Chinese University's second earner was its department of opthalmology and visual sciences, with income of HK$7.35 million. The department spent HK$5.3 million.

A spokesman for the HKU faculty of medicine said any department spends money on overseas exchange 'according to academic needs'.

Dr Kwok said he was disappointed at the lack of transparency and accountability by both faculties.