Private hospitals would not be subject to compulsory monitoring despite increasing allegations of malpractice, an official said yesterday.
Hospitals would be encouraged to join accreditation programmes which would measure standards, but this would not be mandatory, said Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare Gregory Leung Wing-lap.
'The accreditation would only be a voluntary one because it relies on international experts' advice. Their advice, however, might not suit local hospitals,' he told Legco's health services panel.
Mr Leung said an annual quality review would cost $200,000 to $1 million and the expense would be reflected in hospital charges.
Some patients have complained that the Department of Health, Consumer Council, Hospital Authority and Ombudsman are not interested in hearing about blunders at private hospitals, because they do not have the power to investigate them.
Cyd Ho Sau-lan of The Frontier suggested pamphlets could be distributed at private hospitals to advise how patients could make a complaint.
Deputy Director of Health Dr Paul Saw Thian-aun pledged that complaints would be looked at if grievances were taken directly to the Health Department.
Legislator Dr Leong Che-hung, who represents doctors, expressed disappointment at the absence of a monitoring mechanism.
'This issue started in 1989, and we still have achieved nothing on private hospitals monitoring,' he said. 'I didn't see any sincerity by the Government.
'If there is any malpractice in private hospitals, it should be exposed and corrected,' Dr Leong said.