The Hospital Authority was urged yesterday to be transparent in the process used to choose its next chief executive and on the qualifications needed for the job. Chief executive William Ho Shiu-wei, who as the authority's second chief has headed the body since 1999, will step down after his contract ends in September. The former surgeon will be appointed the authority's senior consultant in community medicine when his second three-year contract ends on September 20. Dr Ho succeeded Yeoh Eng-kiong. Dr Yeoh, the authority's first chief executive, became secretary for health, welfare and food, but resigned last year to take responsibility for the government's mishandling of the Sars outbreak. Several critics said yesterday they did not think that there was anyone suitable to take up the top hospital post from among the authority's six directors and deputy directors. Patients' Rights Association spokesman Tim Pang Hung-cheong said: 'Frankly speaking, within the Hospital Authority there is no very suitable candidate for chief executive. I do not see anyone with similar ability as Dr Ho. Maybe they might need to look overseas or outside the authority.' Mr Pang said the authority should be open and transparent about the selection process because it was spending $27 billion of taxpayers' money annually. The authority, the city's biggest employer after the government, manages a head office, 43 public hospitals, 45 specialist outpatient clinics and 74 general outpatient clinics with a staff of 52,000. Rumours that Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai would take up the additional post of Hospital Authority chief executive were quashed when she said that as permanent secretary she already had a full workload. The Hospital Authority board is responsible for picking Dr Ho's successor, but the final decision rests with new Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Those in the running to be the authority's chief executive are directors Allen Cheung Wai-lun, in charge of the planned Central Drug Formulary, Vivian Wong Taam Chi-woon, best known for her research into Sars treatment, and deputy directors Liu Shao-haei, the authority's spokesman during the Sars outbreak, and Cheng Man-yung, formerly chief executive of Tuen Mun Hospital.