A LACK of hospital emergency services has led to at least one death and is putting the lives of other patients at risk, according to the Hongkong Democratic Foundation. The group said hospitals were turning patients away because they did not have emergency facilities. Foundation chairman Dr Patrick Shiu Kin-ying said a recent case in which a woman died when a hospital refused to treat her was not isolated. Dr Shiu said the woman, who was in her 50s' was turned away by the Buddhist Hospital last month because it did not have an accident and emergency department. He said nurses refused to look at the woman who had collapsed in the street and was brought to the Wong Tai Sin hospital by a passer-by. They also refused to telephone for an ambulance or to allow the woman's ''good Samaritan'' to use the telephone himself, Dr Shiu said. The man ended up driving the unconscious woman to Queen Elizabeth Hospital but became caught in a traffic jam. When he arrived, staff could not revive her. The cause of death was a heart attack. ''This incident has brought to the surface a long existing problem with the emergency services in Hongkong,'' Dr Shiu said. ''These things have happened before, though not always leading to a fatality.'' Dr Shiu blamed Hongkong's ''ossified'' system - hospitals lacked guidelines and staff lacked emergency training, he said, adding: ''If you look at it in terms of human lives, one has already been lost.'' He called for satellite emergency centres to be set up around the territory and said all doctors and nurses should receive certified emergency training. Also, the Hospital Authority should issue clear instructions on how hospitals should handle emergencies. Dr Shiu said a recent foundation survey of 300 outpatients and 100 relatives of in-patients found an overwhelming majority in favour of expanding emergency services. Hospital Authority senior executive manager (professional services) Dr Lai King-kwong said the authority felt emergency services were adequate. Of 35 public hospitals, 12 had accident and emergency departments. He said it was not necessary to provide guidelines on emergency treatment because this was related to ethical considerations and professional judgment. ''The general principle is very simple . . . if you don't have the service available, you do what you can do,'' he said. ''Nevertheless, it really depends on the availability of equipment. With only two bare hands, you can't do anything much.'' He said all doctors and nurses received basic emergency training. Dr Lai said the authority would investigate the incident involving the Buddhist Hospital. The hospital could not be contacted for comment last night.