A Sha Tin private hospital has become the first in Hong Kong to put curbs on births by mainland women in what it says is an effort to set a policy that others can follow.
From next year, the Union Hospital will ban what it terms high-risk births - including multiple births - while cutting its overall quota for mainland women by 10 per cent.
'The cut in quota is only provisional. If more local women are coming to us, we will cut the quota even further,' deputy medical director Ares Leung Kwok-ling said yesterday.
The move follows concerns expressed by doctors that the influx of mainland mothers is adding pressure to already tight staffing in maternity wards and intensive-care units.
The Union Hospital handles about 20 per cent of all privatehospital births in Hong Kong.
Last year, about 7,600 babies were born in the hospital, 4,000 to mainland mothers. The hospital will maintain the total number of births, but cut the quota of mainland women by 10 per cent - about 400 cases.
As well as multiple births it will not accept mainland women with a complication called placenta previa, in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the uterus and covers the opening of the cervix. Local women who are less than 16 weeks pregnant and have paid a deposit will usually be guaranteed a bed, Leung said.
A group of public doctors said last month that the influx of mainland women giving birth in the city was a drain on neonatal intensive care units and obstetric services. No more mainland women will be allowed to give birth in public hospitals for the rest of this year. A government working group will meet later this month to set a quota for total births in the city next year, after clinical audits on the capacity of each hospital.
The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the Hong Kong College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists would soon require all obstetric units to spell out their rules for elective Caesarean sections because early births could lead to severe complications.
Leung said the Union Hospital had banned non-medical Caesarian sections before the 37th week for years, and would now extend the ban to the 38th week.