Mainland mothers' emergency births rise
Mainland women were mainly responsible for pushing up the number of non-local women giving birth in public emergency wards in the New Territories East by 79 per cent this year, the Hospital Authority said.
In the region's three hospitals, 231 non-local women gave birth in accident and emergency wards from January to August this year, a jump from 129 during the same period last year.
The increase was more than threefold at Prince of Wales Hospital, from 35 last year to 109.
Dr Fung Hong, the group's chief executive, would not comment on whether some non-local women might be abusing the emergency services after failing to secure the limited spaces assigned by the authority to mainland expectant mothers.
'The situation is not too bad; we are still capable of handling it,' he said. But he added that because North District Hospital did not have an obstetric ward, it would sometimes have to ask Prince of Wales Hospital to transfer doctors over to help. North District Hospital is the hospital nearest the border at Lo Wu.
Prince of Wales' emergency room is the one most lacking in doctors, Fung said. Four vacancies remain on the team of more than 30 doctors after eight doctors left the ward in five months. But Fung said it was not related to the surge in pregnant women admitted to the ward for labour.
On April 8, the Hospital Authority said it would not cater for any more deliveries this year by women from the mainland, including spouses of permanent residents.
Since mid-August, 95 mainland wives of Hong Kong men have been given discount bookings for childbirth at four private hospitals under a Private Hospitals Association plan.
But more than 50 mothers-to-be in a similar situation were excluded from the plan and are seeking help from the Mainland-Hong Kong Families Rights Association, Lam Chun-fai, a member of the association, said.
Meanwhile, the New Territories East hospital group announced its annual plan for the coming year yesterday.
The group's seven hospitals and institutions - including Prince of Wales Hospital, Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital and North District Hospital - will hire 145 more medical staff members in the coming year and will be allocated 5 per cent more resources, Fung said.