• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong's maternity wards 'can cater for 3,000 mainland mothers-to-be'

The complete ban on mainland women using city's maternity services may not be necessary, remarks by Hospital Authority expert suggest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 6:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 9:37am

The maternity wards in the city's public hospitals have room for 2,000 to 3,000 mainland wives of Hong Kong men per year, said the chairman of a Hospital Authority committee that oversees obstetrics and gynaecology services.

In January last year, a ban was introduced on mainland women giving birth in public hospitals, whether or not they were married to Hongkongers. Private hospitals will now only admit mainland women if they are married to Hong Kong men.

Dr Cheung Tak-hong made the remarks in a TVB talk show yesterday after Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the authority was studying the feasibility of admitting some mainland mothers-to-be.

The policy was introduced after an influx of mainland women using the city's maternity services left local mothers-to-be struggling to find a hospital that had capacity left to accept them.

"If we take 2,000 to 3,000 of them, that means 200 to 300 for each hospital a year. It will mean one case every day - the workload is not huge," Cheung said.

Cheung admitted that maternity services for locals could still be affected due to the limited staff and beds. However, he added that the fees paid by mainland women - HK$39,000 each - would be beneficial for hospitals' long-term development and could help pay for better training.

Meanwhile, Dr Ko said he had noticed that the number of local mothers giving birth in the city had remained low after the ban against mainlanders came into effect last year.

He added that the first priority of any change in policy would be to ensure Hongkongers' services would not be affected, he added.

Tsang Koon-wing, organiser of the Mainland-Hong Kong Families Rights Association, said public hospitals should resume admitting mainland mothers-to-be who were married to local men as soon as possible.

He said that about 6,200 such women gave birth in Hong Kong's public and private hospitals from 2009 to 2011. The number dropped to 4,700 in 2012.

Private hospitals in Hong Kong charge mainlanders as much as HK$50,000, and ordinary mainlanders just could not afford it, he said.

Tsang explained that mainland women want to give birth in Hong Kong to ensure families can stay together. "If the children are not born in Hong Kong, it will take a year to 18 months to apply for the documents to come to Hong Kong. It is a lot of effort and time," he said.

"In some cases, some children have still not been allowed to come by the time they turn two. That is a problem because they need to start kindergarten at the age of three." And while the fathers remain living and working in Hong Kong, the wives have no one with whom to share the burden of child care during the long wait, Tsang said.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

In the end it is profit and money, again!
Are these HA officials figuratively blind? Walk into the maternity ward in any of the public hospitals now. There are beds in the hallways because they ran out of rooms. Is this the quality of healthcare that we are reduced to, simply to cater to people who pay no taxes and looking to escape their own country's deplorable social support system?
Preventing Hongkongers bringing their wives to Hong Kong to give birth is an inhumane policy which ought to be scrapped.
Perhaps not. The HK government is short of a lot of things but money is surely not one of them. Shortages of hospital spaces or medical professionals can be overcome with the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen. Nor does it have to be a public solution: once upon a time it was exactly this kind of economic opportunity that transformed HK into a business capital. The question here seems more about politics than about money. Successive administrations have proven unworthy of coping with the Right of Abode issue, so they have relied on shameful tricks like denying maternity services to mainland mothers.
How to proof that the woman is married to a Hong Kong resident? As marriage is registered in the Hong Kong marriage register, they should be allowed to use HK hospitals too.
It's all about the $$$$ or RMB in this case!
"Meanwhile, Dr Ko said he had noticed that the number of local mothers giving birth in the city had remained low after the ban against mainlanders came into effect last year."
Is Ko implying that the number of local mothers giving birth in the city should rise vis a vis the ban last year? What utter nonsense!
The medical lobby is so strong in this city that calls for the total ban to be lifted are now being accepted by govt doctors like Ko. No doubt the private hospitals want the ban to be lifted too.
I understand the gynae and obstetrics wards serve not just pregnant and birth cases, but also cater to other female diseases as well.
Ko is just testing to gauge the public reaction.
Many people in Hong Kong seems to be missing the point. Mainland mothers on one way permits are wives of Hong Kong residents. Right now, any mother with a dependent are treated the same as any Hong Kong residents, not only that, domestic helpers and other people here on work visas, as long as they have a Hong Kong Identity Card are treated the same as any Hong Kong residents. In other words, those who are living in Stanley or Repulse Bay and earning a base salary of well over HK$1,000,000 per year, although sponsor by a company are entitle to the same benefits as any Hong Kong resident. In which case, I fail to understand (apart from there being political issues) why mainland mother in Hong Kong on a one way permit should be treated any differently? I also find it strange that spouses of Hong Kong residents still residing in the Mainland are treated any differenlty than Hong Kong residents, for after all they are spouses of our own people. Or are they not? This policy is inhumane and stinks to high heaven of prejudice. I am surprise that our EOC has not taken any action against such prejudices at all.
Based on the averaged figures for the past ten years, Hong Kong seemed to be able to accommodate about 50,000 births. Hence 3000 is only 6% of overage. The overage was probably based on current low birthrates but if that changes, Hong Kong will be faced with a shortage of resources. Why not allocate current unused resources to other treatments like cancer, for example, and preserve them as contingencies if case the local birthrate suddenly changes?
I think the question should be: How many HK men have wives on the mainland...AND Hong Kong??



SCMP.com Account