Private hospitals expect to provide 1,500 more beds - an increase of more than 50 per cent - in the next five years to meet growing demand for private medical services.
Private Hospitals' Association chairman Alan Lau Kwok-lam said many of the 12 private hospitals, including St Teresa's, St Paul's, Baptist and the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, were undergoing large-scale renovation or expansion projects. This is expected to boost the number of beds from the present 2,900 to 4,400 by 2012.
Dr Lau said there had been strong demand for private medical services because long waiting times for subsidised public services disappointed many patients able to pay more for better service. Demand had also been boosted by the improving economy, especially among those with medical insurance.
'Also, many experienced doctors have left the public hospitals and entered the private market in recent years, which has brought more patients to the private hospitals,' Dr Lau said.
Patients' confidence had also been boosted by greater pricing transparency.
The Baptist Hospital in Kowloon Tong has just opened 102 new beds in the two new floors built on top of its original main building last month, bringing the number of beds to 710.
In addition, the hospital is also building more operating theatres and a new 12-storey block that will provide 100 more beds by mid-next year.
The 400-bed Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital in Happy Valley also expects to complete its expansion project next year, which will add 20 floors on top of its existing main building, providing more than 50 extra beds and new speciality centres.
The hospital will improve its ward facilities so that each bed will be equipped with a computer system that will allow patients to browse the internet and play games.
The Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital is building a new block, which will be completed in five years and which will dramatically increase the number of beds - from 115 to 450. Its sister hospital, the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, is considering demolishing its existing staff hostel and building a block to provide 100 more beds.
But Dr Lau said there was no plan for private hospitals to increase prices in the next six months.