Chiefs of the nine private hospitals that provide obstetrics and gynaecology services will set up a central registration system to stop over-booking by doctors anxious to ensure beds for their patients. The chairman of the Private Hospitals' Association, Alan Lau Kwok-lam, said yesterday a system recording all bookings by private doctors for obstetrics beds would be set up within two weeks. 'We have realised that some private doctors have booked beds for the same patient at several hospitals, perhaps because they were worried that the influx of mainland pregnant women giving birth in Hong Kong might take up the beds,' Dr Lau said. 'In the end, of course, the local patient only occupied one bed, which meant the reservations at other hospitals were wasted. 'So we think a new central registration system will prevent such overbooking while better utilising the resources. 'If a doctor does not play by the rules and overbooks, the nine private hospitals may jointly penalise him and put a stop to it.' The idea emerged at a meeting called by the association on Tuesday to discuss measures to meet the higher demand for obstetric and gynaecology services from pregnant mainlanders. Union Hospital medical director Anthony Lee Kai-yiu said a registration system shared by the private hospitals through the internet could be easily set up. But he said that to tackle the fundamental problem, the government had to step up measures to reduce the number of mainland women coming to the city to give birth and to prevent them competing for resources with Hong Kong residents. In the past, pregnant women needed only to show a medical certificate for admission to a private hospital their obstetrician was affiliated to. However, the growing number of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong has pushed many obstetric wards to near capacity, prompting complaints from local women that they have difficulty finding a bed for delivery. About 40 pregnant local women took to the streets last month to protest about the matter. A magazine aimed at Hong Kong mothers said yesterday that in an online poll of 704 pregnant women last month, 97 per cent said they were worried that they would be deprived of appropriate medical care because the resources were shared with mainland women.