A big public hospital could be built at Kai Tak, near Hong Kong's first children's hospital, the health minister said yesterday.
It would serve the many new housing developments planned for the site of the former airport, and would answer a longstanding complaint of Wong Tai Sin residents: that the densely populated district lacks adequate medical facilities close by.
Dr Ko Wing-man, the secretary for food and health, revealed that the government was considering building a new hospital at Kai Tak to cater for more than 420,000 people living in the district.
Hong Kong's first children's hospital is scheduled to open at Kai Tak in 2018, and the new public hospital could be built on land next to it.
Kowloon East lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said the plots would be near Ngau Tau Kok. Currently, Wong Tai Sin residents have to travel more than 7km to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei, or over 6km to Kwong Wah Hospital. Alternatively, they face a trip of around 6km to United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, said another Kowloon East lawmaker, Wong Kwok-kin. The new hospital would be less than half that distance away.
"It is inconvenient for Wong Tai Sin residents, especially the elderly, because the hospitals are far away and the traffic can be troubling," Wong said. "I hope the new one at Kai Tak will be at least the size of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and have advanced facilities."
With 1,800 beds, Queen Elizabeth is one of the biggest public hospitals in the city, but as it is turning 50 this year, the government is also considering rebuilding it.
"Queen Elizabeth Hospital is relatively old, and many patients are being treated there … so the administration may consider transferring some of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's services to the Kai Tak hospital in the future so that queueing time can be shortened," Ko said.