Private specialists may be allowed to follow their patients to public hospitals under proposals being discussed by a government taskforce. Secretary for Health and Welfare Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said yesterday: 'We are considering allowing private doctors to spend some of their time at public hospitals. 'Two good things can come out of that - private doctors can provide specialised services which are in such short supply in the public sector. It is also good for private doctors to have links with the public sector.' The plan was discussed by an ad hoc committee comprising representatives of private doctors, hospitals, medical insurers and the Government to try to find ways to improve 'interface and co-operation' between private and public sectors, he said. The taskforce met for the first time at the end of last month and is expected to submit its recommendations within six months. Pressure is building on the Government to redress the imbalance between the Hospital Authority, which is faced with long waiting lists, and the private sector, which has seen its market shrink to five per cent, from 15 per cent, since the authority was set up in 1991. Dr Yeoh said the Government was also looking at allowing private GPs to fill in for trainee-doctors at Hospital Authority family medicine centres. The doctors would be paid $800 for each session with a patient. Another proposal is to contract-out hi-tech, ultra-expensive tests to private hospitals, he said. Dr Yeoh was answering questions after opening Hong Kong's first centre for public day Chinese medicine services at Kwong Wah Hospital, in Yau Ma Tei, yesterday. The Jockey Club Specialist Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic would also be a research centre for methods and treatments that would supplement 'some of the defective areas in Western medicine', said Professor Leung Ping-chung, an orthopaedic professor at Chinese University. 'It is not substituting Western medicine, it is supplementing knowledge in specific areas, such as allergic conditions, chronic pain, viral infection, some cancers and also immune diseases.' Leung Kam-fong, chief executive of the clinic, said patients would be referred by Kwong Wah Hospital doctors, but they would also cater for walk-in patients. A maximum daily quota is set at 160. Of its 32 staff, six were former professors at Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, he said. The centre is being seen as a model for the other 17 Chinese medicine clinics attached to the Hospital Authority that will be set up by 2005. Seven of them will open next year.