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HEALTH SERVICES

Union Hospital, Tai Wai, boosts birth fee to deter mainland mothers

Private hospital increases maternity charge to up to HK$270,000 for mainland women without HK husbands using its emergency ward

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 7:24am
 

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A private hospital is almost tripling its maternity fee to up to HK$270,000 to deter mainland women without Hong Kong husbands from giving birth at the last minute in its emergency ward.

The move is among several to be introduced next year at Union Hospital in Tai Wai, which has the city's only private emergency facilities.

The measures are aimed only at mainland women who fall under the government's "zero quota" policy for such births.

Mainland women who have Hong Kong husbands will not be affected.

Deputy medical director Dr Ares Leung Kwok-ling said the hospital also wanted to forestall any moves by unscrupulous mainland agencies to arrange "gatecrashing" births, a common ploy at emergency wards.

"There are rumours that some middleman agencies are arranging for mainland women to use illegal methods to overstay in the city and rush into emergency wards for last-minute deliveries," Leung said.

"Our emergency ward may be not able to refuse gatecrashing cases for humane reasons, but we hope that these measures … should be able to stop them from using this method."

In addition to the usual maternity fee of HK$80,000 to HK$100,000 charged to local women, the hospital will charge mainland women without a local husband between HK$150,000 and HK$170,000 for using the emergency unit.

The hospital will also report the women, who have usually entered the city illegally or overstayed their visa, to the police and related authorities, leaving them liable to prosecution.

"We believe the police will also trace and prosecute the intermediaries for aiding and abetting the women or providing accommodation during the overstay period," Leung said.

Such women will also be allowed to see only the duty doctors, not those of their choice, to prevent any collusion between doctors and agencies - although no such case has yet been uncovered at the hospital. The "zero quota" policy, announced by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in April bans all mainland woman without a Hong Kong husband from booking maternity beds from next year. Leung also warned that their babies may not gain the Hong Kong permanent residence that is a key attraction for mainland parents.

Union Hospital, where mainland mothers once made up 60 per cent of the maternity cases, expects the ban to decrease the use of its maternity services.

Bookings are already down 40 per cent for the first quarter of next year from the same period this year.

The number of mainland women gatecrashing public emergency units has dropped significantly from a monthly average of 150 cases at the end of last year to 25 last month.

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