Longer waits for 'urgent' cases at public hospitals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 3:37am

The proportion of patients needing "urgent" treatment who were seen within half an hour at public hospital emergency departments fell to the lowest level in a decade in the year to March, the Hospital Authority's annual report for 2012/13 revealed yesterday.

Some 16 per cent of patients whose condition was classified as "urgent" - the third most serious of the five categories emergency patients are divided into - had to wait longer than half an hour, the standard time set by the authority, in the last financial year. Some 5,800 patients visit the city's 15 major accident and emergency departments each day.

Authority insiders say emergency departments have seen an increase in the number of patients in the three most urgent categories in recent years, while technological advances that have allowed more medical procedures to be carried out in emergency departments may also have contributed to delays.

But medical sector lawmaker Dr Leung Ka-lau said hospital bosses should have done more to improve the situation.

"Management should have acted when they saw such a situation." He said. "They should give an account of what measures they have taken as a remedy."

Some 97 per cent of patients in the second most serious category were seen within the 15-minute target, the report revealed. No patients deemed critically ill had to wait.

The report also revealed that the authority's four highest-paid executives saw their packages increase by four to five per cent.

Chief executive Dr Leung Pak-yin was the top earner with HK$4.73 million, followed by finance director Nancy Tse's HK$4.47 million, HK$4.41 million for Dr Fung Hong, who headed hospitals in New Territories East and retired in October, and director Dr Cheung Wai-lun's HK$4.35 million.

Head of Kowloon West hospitals Dr Tung Sau-ying made it into the top five, making HK4.03 million, replacing Dr Anne Lee Wing-mui, chief of service at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan. The figures include basic pay, allowances, pension contributions and other benefits.

That compares with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's HK$4.22 million basic pay and an additional sum of HK$799,000 described as an entertainment allowance.