Demand for public hospital services eased over the New Year weekend, with the waiting time for emergency services half that of the Christmas period. The Post visited public hospitals yesterday and found the maximum waiting time had dropped to three hours from the maximum six-hour wait at some accident and emergency units during the Christmas holidays. Some patients at Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei said they had to wait for only one to two hours. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan told patients they would have to wait 100 to 150 minutes if their condition was not urgent. One 71-year-old patient at the hospital was classified as a semi-urgent case due to a slight heart condition. He had to wait 90 minutes to see a doctor. 'This is already faster than normal days, as there are more doctors and fewer patients today,' he said, adding that his worst experience was to be kept in the waiting area for five hours. However, Lee Wai-hung, 21, who had a fever, still found it unbearable waiting for nearly 21/2 hours at Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai. 'It is really bad waiting so long, as I am feeling colder and colder sitting here.' The president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, Gabriel Choi Kin, said most patients went to public hospitals for consultations in the afternoon, as they did not visit doctors when public and private clinics opened for half a day in the morning. 'When most patients seek consultations at the same time, they put pressure on public hospital services. Thus, their waiting time is longer because of the sudden increase in demand,' he said. Figures show there was a 24 per cent increase in the number of people using the accident and emergency wards during the Christmas holidays compared with the previous weekend. A daily average of 6,204 patients attended the A&E departments of 14 public hospitals during the Christmas holidays, the Hospital Authority said. In 2004, the increase in the number of A&E patients during the Christmas holidays compared with the rest of December was only 3.8 per cent. A spokesman for Kwong Wah Hospital said attendance at its accident and emergency unit was normal yesterday, and the hospital had established contingency plans for manpower deployment to meet operational needs during long holidays.