Tai Po hospital tender dumped after bidder fails to meet conditions

Health minister says only bidder for the private hospital plot did not measure up, as GHK's HK$1.7b offer wins Wong Chuk Hang project

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 March, 2013, 8:29am

The government has scrapped a tender to build a private hospital on a site in Tai Po because the sole bidder failed to meet conditions attached to the project.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday the government would consider whether to change the site's land use. It may also change the use for two other sites earmarked for private hospitals by the former administration - in Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O. These sites have yet to be put out for tender.

But other private hospital bids were more successful. Ko said GHK Hospital won the contract for a plot in Wong Chuk Hang. The consortium - comprising Singapore's Parkway Pantai Holding and Hong Kong's NWS Holdings - will build a hospital on the site, to be run in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong. Ko said three tenders were received for the site, but GHK Hospital's had "the highest score for its service provision proposal and land premium offer".

NWS chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun said the company would build the Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital on the site, east of Aberdeen, and it would open in 2017. It offered HK$1.68 billion for the 27,500 square metres of land.

The new hospital would have more than 500 beds and 15 specialities, Ko said. And more than 50 per cent of its services would be provided at a fixed package price - more than the 30 per cent required in the tender conditions. The operators said charges would be "affordable, accessible and transparent", without elaborating. Prices of procedures would be available online, said Dr Tan See Leng, chief executive of Parkway Pantai.

Extra resources would be allocated to the new hospital, rather than taken from nearby Queen Mary Hospital, said HKU medicine dean Professor Lee Sum-ping. "[We are] very excited and looking forward to it," he said.

The university will be responsible for clinical governance and quality control. The two companies will decide pricing.

But there was little interest in the Tai Po site. It received only one tender, from Indian chain Fortis Healthcare. Without naming the company, Ko said the sole bidder for the project had failed because its proposal did not meet the government's basic requirements. Two other groups, including Chinese University and Union Hospital, withdrew from the tender before the deadline, saying they were concerned about the conditions attached to the project.

But Ko denied suggestions the unprecedented set of conditions could have deterred potential investors, or that the city's private health-care sector was already saturated. "We can't make this conclusion based on just one site. The Wong Chuk Hang site had three interested parties," he said, adding the government would review the market to determine the fate of the three other plots.

The former administration set aside four sites for private hospitals - one of the six new pillar industries pushed by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. However, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has expressed reservations about adding to the private sector.

Yet the Civic Party is concerned about what it says is an inadequate number of private beds and has urged the government to put the Tai Po site out for tender again as soon as possible.