Hong Kong general practitioners operating clinics across the border have been facing many difficult challenges despite a huge market for quality medical services in China..
Complex bureaucracy, arcane regulations and operating costs even higher than Hong Kong's have been weighing heavily on private medical practices in Shenzhen - like the one belonging to Wu Wei. The Hong Kong doctor set up his clinic there three years ago.
But Shenzhen’s Health, Population and Family Planning Commission has suspended Wu’s practice for “poor business management” and ordered the clinic to "rectify its problems by March 31", the Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday.
Wu’s practice provided a range of services including traditional Chinese medicine, gynaecology, dentistry - even cosmetic surgery. Wu was contacted by reporters at the Daily, but staff at his clinic said the doctor had been away since the beginning of the Spring Festival. They did not know where he was.
Wu opened his Luohu clinic in 2010 and was one of the first Hong Kong GPs to capitalise on new Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) rules. These allow medical service providers from Hong Kong to tap the mainland market and enjoy "national treatment” in setting up wholly-owned or joint medical institutions.
The aim was to develop a market in Guangdong for quality Hong Kong-based medical services for China's rich.
Hong Kong-based Dr Wong Chi-ho told the South China Morning Post that although there was still a large market for Western and Chinese medical services on the mainland, operating and start-up costs were still too high.
“Moving up to the mainland will still be the trend, but doctors must be prepared to spend a lot of money for new equipment and meeting the regulations of local authorities,” he said.
Wong says he is one of the few Hong Kong GPs left in Shenzhen and alternates from his Shenzhen and Tuen Mun clinic throughout the week. He was the first Hong Kong doctor to obtain a licence to practice western medicine in China and opened up his clinic last May.
“Some of the current medical practice regulations for hospitals may not be suitable for private clinics,” he added.
Private clinics charge about 500 yuan (HK$620) for a single consultation in Shenzhen, about three to five times more than hospital outpatient departments.