HKU won't drop pricey mainland Chinese hospital even after HK$200m bill

Despite sky-high costs, the Shenzhen partnership will continue

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 5:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 9:12am

Despite a financial setback, the University of Hong Kong has decided to move forward with its Shenzhen hospital project.

The university will continue its cooperation with the Shenzhen government in running the HKU-Shenzhen Hospital in Futian, its council resolved unanimously yesterday.

The decision came after media reports that the university had spent HK$200 million on clinical management and supervision since the hospital opened in 2012, and that the whole project could lose HK$4.8 billion by 2023 if there were no effective reforms.

Chinese-languag daily Ming Pao reported that the university's chances of recovering the sum were not high, as Shenzhen deputy mayor Wu Yihuan was said to have stated that HKU would be repaid only when the hospital was financially viable.

Council chairman Dr Leong Che-hung said yesterday that the university supported the project based on its core values. "It will help us realise the university's principles of research and education, as well as assist the national medical reform," he said.

He did not address the question of when the debt would be settled, but said the university would give a report and recommendations to the Shenzhen government on how to better run the hospital.

"It's been clear that the Shenzhen government is responsible for settling that sum of money, and they admitted it. What we have to do is to offer suggestions on how to make the hospital succeed," he said.

The hospital should have more private wards, he said, and open five special diagnosis centres - for heart disease, orthopaedics-traumatology, reproductive medicine, tumour and organ transplant - as soon as possible.

University vice chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson said the council discussed concrete suggestions for how to make the hospital succeed.

"The task is to realise some of the potential there is for HKU and at the same time manage the risk. As an ongoing piece of work, we will accept the responsibility of doing the two things," he said.

For the 2012-13 financial year, the university recorded a surplus of HK$2.3 billion, thanks to additional school fees.