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Health and wellness

Hongkongers happier with government but medical services are a big worry, survey finds

Hong Kong Happiness Index rises in 2017 after hitting a 10-year low but health care rating at lowest since survey began

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2018, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 January, 2018, 9:56pm

Hongkongers were more satisfied with the government over the past year, leading to a recovered level of happiness from a 10-year low in 2016, according to a survey by a local tertiary institution.

But the study, which polled 709 respondents, also found Hong Kong people were increasingly upset about health care services.

The Hong Kong Happiness Index, compiled by Chu Hai College, rose to 69.7 in 2017 from 67.6 the year before, which was the lowest in a decade. The scores were measured on a scale of zero to 100.

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The poll, conducted last October and November through random phone calls and an online survey, found the satisfaction rating on public policy administration climbed to 4.94 from 4.38 (on a scale of zero to 10). But the rating for public health care declined from 6.29 to 5.88, the lowest level since the survey started in 2005.

“The higher satisfaction rate with the government is possibly a result of the new administration,” said Ho Lok-sang, the principal investigator of the survey and the dean of business at Chu Hai College.

Although many new policies proposed by the government had yet to be implemented, people felt concrete benefits such as public transport fare discounts, Ho said.

Although young people were less satisfied with government policies than older people, the rating given by those under 30 increased the most among all age groups, rising 27 per cent to 4.21 last year from 3.31 in 2016.

But the low score for health care services was “very alarming,” Ho said. “I have never seen the scores of health care services dipping below 6.”

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Ho attributed the decline to a series of medical incidents in the past year and an exodus of experienced medical professionals from public hospitals to private ones.

“The medical incidents have shattered the public’s confidence in the medical system,” he said. “The government policy of directing patients to private hospitals is not working, because many experienced doctors fled the public hospitals too.”

In October, a surgeon left a patient on the operating table for three hours during a liver transplant to perform surgery in another hospital. And last January, a 43-year-old woman suffered acute liver failure after two doctors prescribed her a high dose of steroids without giving her an antiviral drug to prevent potentially fatal side effects. The woman died in August after two liver transplants.

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The survey also found that while satisfaction with the press rose for a third year to 5.08 across different age groups, those under 30 gave a lower rating, at 4.91, down from 4.94 in 2016.

Those under 30 lagged other age groups in happiness across different categories, according to the survey. They gave especially low scores when asked whether “life is really worth living” and whether they “worry about things beyond their control”.