Hospital chiefs are looking for ways to slash a seven-year waiting list for circumcision in Tuen Mun. A solution is being offered to private doctors. For $500 per patient, they can use Tuen Mun Hospital's operating theatre to perform the surgery on boys whose parents are willing to pay. Fees would be a matter between parents and doctors. At one of Hong Kong's cheaper private hospitals, the surgical team's fee for a circumcision ranges from $3,400 to $7,650. The same hospital charges from $2,380 to $3,080 for use of an operating theatre. Demand has been growing among Hong Kong parents to have boys circumcised, and Tuen Mun Hospital, the only general hospital in New Territories West, has been unable to cope. The nearest private hospital to Tuen Mun is at Sha Tin. Hospital Authority officials put forward the proposal to let private doctors do the work in a meeting earlier this month with the Hong Kong Medical Association. Dr Choi Kin, who sits on the association's council, said the authority was also asking for its members' help to reduce the three-year wait for a hernia operation. But Dr Choi said circumventing the problem was 'a backward step'. If the waiting list became shorter, 'then more people will line up for circumcision', defeating the authority's goal of concentrating resources on catastrophic and chronic illnesses and on the needy. He also said a child requiring circumcision would outgrow the need during the seven-year wait for the operation. 'Alternatively he may develop an infection, in which case he would probably go to the emergency department or to a private surgeon to have the circumcision done,' said Dr Choi. Last week, the Action Group on Medical Policy warned that waiting lists for operations at public hospitals were reaching critical levels as the government dithered on health-care financing options. 'We have heard of waiting lists for minor operations of up to six, seven years in some hospitals. But why is the public not being informed about this?' asked Louis Shih Tai-cho, of the action group. The Hospital Authority deficit is expected to grow to $600 million this year, up from $450 million last year. Asked about waiting lists, a spokesman for the authority recently said: 'The median waiting time of all new referrals to Hospital Authority specialist clinics for all specialties is six weeks.'