Unpaid HMO doctors asked to come forward

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2007, 12:00am

Doctors who worked for a health maintenance organisation (HMO) that has gone out of business owing hundreds of general practitioners for up to six months' work have been urged to come forward.

The Hong Kong Doctors Union has vowed to fight to get members' money from Medical Alliance Networks (Man), which had been in business since July 2000 and whose clients included big companies such as Standard Chartered Bank.

'The company informed its doctors earlier that it would cease operation from 31 May and asked them to join a new company,' union president Henry Yeung Chiu-fat said. 'However, it said the new company would not cover the debts of the old company.'

Dr Yeung said one doctor who had complained to the union said the new company had pledged to pay doctors who agreed to work for it after paying them a 10th of what Man owed them.

'The doctor told me that he was owed about half a year's pay, but he did not remember the exact amount,' said Dr Yeung, who estimates 500 doctors are affected.

Doctors who worked for Man also saw other patients.

The case was reminiscent of a similar case seven years ago, Dr Yeung said.

'A private health company closed in 2000, and another then opened and asked doctors of the closed one to join it without paying the wages,' he said. 'I fear this bad business method will go on and on.'

He urged the government to legislate against such practices.

'More measures should be established to monitor health organisations. While the government keeps stressing the quality of doctors, it should also pay attention to the standard of companies which employ doctors,' Dr Yeung said.

A Man spokesman refused to comment.

Of 140 doctors polled by medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki, 97 per cent backed legislating to regulate the HMOs.