Demand for emergency treatment at Hong Kong hospitals eases despite onset of peak flu season

Tuen Mun and Prince of Wales hospitals appeared to be dealing with fewer emergency patients, but queues remained long at United Christian Hospital

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 8:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 July, 2017, 11:11am

The city’s public hospitals have seen a slight easing of demand at emergency units on a day hit by heavy rainstorms, but United Christian Hospital remained busy handling both patients and visitors.

According to the Hospital Authority, the overall occupancy rate at medical wards was 114 per cent on Monday as the peak summer flu season kicked in.

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More than 5,800 people sought help at accident and emergency departments, of whom 983 were admitted for treatment.

A visit by the Post to United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong at noon on Tuesday found a queue of about 100 patients and relatives winding out into the street. They were lining up to take lifts, with most getting off on floors with medical wards.

“You have to get here before noon so you don’t have to wait a long time outside,” said visitor Cheung Chi-ling, 43, who was visiting her mother in the hospital.

“I’m glad my mother got a spot in the medical ward. I don’t know how others are doing, but I know it’s already more than full.”

Other hospitals the Post visited during the day, including Tuen Mun and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, appeared to be dealing with fewer emergency patients.

Dozens were seen waiting in the reception area at the two hospitals. Non-urgent patients had to wait for over an hour to see a doctor, which was shorter than the eight hours needed during peak hours.

But a patient at Queen Elizabeth Hospital named Au-yeung, who had a minor fever and a stomach ache, said he waited for at least two hours before seeing a doctor. He complained that the emergency department should have separated urgent cases from minor ones.

Public hospitals have been trying to transfer patients from overloaded medical wards to other departments. It is understood Prince of Wales Hospital has been relatively successful in directing patients to different wards, including the maternal department, which is usually less busy in summer.

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“It will require some persuasion and hard work by staff from different departments to take up this extra workload,” a hospital source said.

Additional reporting by Emily Tsang