Mainland mother claims unfair treatment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am

A disgruntled mainland mother lodged a complaint with the ombudsman yesterday, alleging a disparity in treatment given to local and mainland mothers, as well as Hospital Authority maladministration.

The mother, who only gave her name as Mrs So, was joined by 10 members of a concern group for expectant mainland mothers at the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday.

Mrs So, from Shenzhen, married a Hong Kong man in 2004. She gave birth to a baby boy at Princess Margaret Hospital on July 31. She alleged that, despite inflammation from her wound following a Caesarean section, the authority refused to dispense anti-inflammatory drugs to her when she was discharged because of outstanding obstetrics fees.

The total HK$51,300 hospital fee charged to Mrs So included the three-day obstetric package costing HK$48,000 as she gave birth without a hospital booking. She was sent to the hospital's emergency unit to deliver her baby. Mrs So was charged HK$3,300 for the extra day she stayed in hospital. She said she had settled only HK$1,000 of the sum.

To curb an influx of pregnant mainland women giving birth in local hospitals, the authority in February raised the cost of a three-day obstetrics package for non-local women from H$22,000 to HK$39,000 for those who have had antenatal checks in the city, and HK$48,000 for those who had not.

Mrs So claimed the Hospital Authority had not provided her with the same medical benefits a local women, despite her spouse being a local resident. She said hospital staff had 'urged' her to be discharged without considering her inflamed incision.

Princess Margaret Hospital last night confirmed it had been told of a complaint to the Ombudsman. A spokesman said doctors had treated Mrs So's surgical wound, which had shown no signs of inflammation. Her recovery had been satisfactory, so doctors saw no need to dispense the drug. He said Mrs So had initiated her own discharge and staff had explained in detail about the wound.

Mrs So also accused the authority of maladministration for the late issuing of her child's birth certificate, which she said she received 30 to 40 days after the birth.

According to a measure initiated by the authority in March, local and mainland parents should receive a birth certificate two weeks after their baby is born if they pay their fees on time. By law, a birth must be registered within 42 days.

A spokesman for the ombudsman refused to disclose whether an investigation had been launched.