Secretary for Health and Welfare Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong's plans to improve co-operation between the public and private medical sectors were yesterday dismissed as useless. Dr Yeoh on Tuesday said he was seeking co-operation from the private sector to refer some public hospital patients to private hospitals. One measure being considered was for main public hospitals in New Territories East to provide patients with more comprehensive information on services in the private sector, so patients could make their own choice, a spokesman for the Hospital Authority said yesterday. But legislator Dr Lo Wing-lok said some public hospitals were already referring patients to private hospitals for procedures for which there were long queues. The president of the Practising Estate Doctors' Association, Dr Gabriel Choi Kin, said merely providing information about private facilities would be no use to patients. 'I doubt whether doctors at public hospitals would implement what he [Dr Yeoh] preaches,' he said. Dr Lo said Dr Yeoh was unwilling to make genuine reforms to address the 'prohibitive price differentials' between public and private services. The Government allocates $30 billion a year for the Hospital Authority in the heavily subsidised system where patients pay $68 for each day spent in hospital. 'The economic crisis is precipitating the crisis in health care sooner than later. If the economic situation does not improve in three years, the health care system will face a crisis in five years,' Dr Lo warned. He suggested that the Government establish a medical insurance plan under which civil servants would be offered the option of private health care. The Hospital Authority currently received $2 billion a year to spend on health care for all civil servants and their dependents, Dr Lo said. Dr Anthony Lee Kai-yiu, chief hospital manager and medical director of the private Union Hospital in Sha Tin, said his hospital had met representatives of public hospitals in New Territories East. He said one suggestion called for desks at the Prince of Wales, Nethersole and North District hospitals to provide information about services offered by private hospitals and doctors in the area. Hospital staff could also organise appointments with the private hospital if the patient wished, he said.