Public hospitals will continue to bar non-local pregnant women from booking any obstetric services next year to ensure priority for locals and avoid extra pressure on limited clinical resources.
The decision was announced despite the chairman of a Hospital Authority committee overseeing obstetrics and gynaecology saying last month that public hospitals had the capacity to accept non-locals. An authority spokesman said gynaecology services had been scaled down so resources could meet the "extraordinary demand" for obstetrics in the past few years.
"There is a need to normalise the adversely affected gynaecology services at public hospitals," he said.
The suspension, in force since January last year, prevents mainlanders from giving birth in public hospitals, whether or not they are married to Hongkongers. Private hospitals are allowed to admit mainland women only if they are married to Hongkongers.
The authority projected public hospitals would see 38,950 deliveries for the whole of this year and 39,210 next year, the spokesman said.
The forecasts meant neonatal intensive care units would be at 106 per cent of capacity this year and 107 per cent next year. Apart from that, he said, "the authority will still face a shortfall of medical and nursing staff in 2015".
On April 27, Dr Cheung Tak-hong, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, said public hospitals had room to take in 2,000 to 3,000 mainland wives of Hong Kong men per year.
Tsang Koon-wing, organiser of the Mainland-Hong Kong Families Rights Association, expressed outrage at the decision.
"The authority has been saying in the past five years that it is short of medical staff. Yet, it has done nothing to solve this problem," Tsang said.
"And it is now taking away the rights of mainland women with Hong Kong husbands to give birth to babies in the city."