Hospital may raise fees after losses from mainland birth ban

Baptist Hospital says deliveries fell 80pc after mainlanders barred from giving birth in HK

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 5:50pm

The hospital with Hong Kong's biggest private obstetric ward says it lost more than HK$200 million last year and its deliveries fell 80 per cent after the government banned mainland couples from having babies in the city.

Baptist Hospital said its overall charges might rise this year to cover the loss, which pushed the hospital into a HK$60 million deficit.

"After the ban, the number of admissions in our maternity ward dropped significantly," the hospital's chief executive Raymond Chen Chung-i said.

Chen was speaking yesterday after Health Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man said during the weekend that the government might relax the ban, which was imposed last year to stem an influx of mainland mothers-to-be that spurred protests that local women were being denied beds.

Yesterday, there were suggestions that public hospitals were likely to maintain their complete ban on mainland women giving birth in their facilities - despite a Hospital Authority official saying there was room for 2,000 to 3,000 mainland wives of Hong Kong men a year.

Last year, only 2,300 babies were born in the Baptist Hospital, compared with more than 12,000 the year before the ban was imposed. It has since cut the number of obstetric beds to 82, from 153 previously.

Chen said a discount of HK$3,000 would be offered on its usual HK$79,000 fee in an effort to attract local mothers.

The hospital is also trying to reallocate excess maternity resources to other services, such as cancer treatment, diagnostic services and day-care clinics.

"All increases will come slowly and gradually," Chen said. "There will not be a significant rise to scare off patients."

More than 90,000 babies were born in Hong Kong each year in 2011 and 2012 - 30 per cent to non-locals and 6 per cent to mainlanders with Hong Kong husbands. After the ban, the number dropped to 57,128, with 1.3 per cent born to non-locals.

Dr Cheung Tak-hong, chairman of a Hospital Authority committee that oversees obstetrics and gynaecology services, said on Sunday that public maternity wards could take 2,000 to 3,000 mainland women married to Hong Kong men each year.

But after an internal authority meeting yesterday, a source said it was inclined to maintain its ban on these women to guarantee that local women got priority.