HK$4.5m to shorten prostate surgery queue
The Hospital Authority is spending HK$4.5 million to shorten the queue for surgery for patients with enlarged prostates, some of whom have been waiting up to three years for treatment.
Doctors said the queue had grown over the past couple of years and might affect the quality of service in other sections of the health system if the problem was not addressed.
Under the scheme, the government will give one-off funding to the authority to provide surgery for 330 patients with benign problems.
The money will allow the authority to pay doctors' overtime to carry out the surgery. The patients will have their operations by the first quarter of next year. It is hoped the scheme will cut waiting times to two to three months.
According to Man Chi-wai, a urologist at Tuen Mun Hospital, public hospitals conduct about 2,000 such operations a year.
But with 10,000 new patients a year, there are about 330 patients with more serious symptoms waiting for surgery.
An enlarged prostate can result in an inability to urinate. It is treated by drugs or surgery.
Dr Man said some patients might have to wait up to three years before they received treatment. These patients often faced complications from the disease and visited outpatient clinics or emergency services.
This might take away resources from other patients.
Cheng Man-Yung, the authority's chief manager of clinical specialty co-ordination, said that for public hospitals to give proper priority to all patients, private doctors should be precise in describing their patients' situations when referring them to government specialists.
Dr Cheng, who headed a working group to solve the problem of long waiting times, said they were studying the feasibility of extending such funding schemes to other diseases.
'If we neglect the significance of non-emergency cases, the overall quality of services could be affected.'
He said the government was also drafting a proposal to co-operate with the private sector in order to shorten the queue for cataract patients.