Fees for non-resident women set to soar in bid to halt influx Mainland women face hospital fees of up to HK$48,000 to have babies in Hong Kong from early next year, after the Hospital Authority approved a series of measures to curb the influx of mainlanders who give birth at public hospitals. Expectant women who book deliveries will be charged HK$39,000 - almost twice the present cost of HK$20,000. The fee will include a stay of three days and two nights in hospital in a general ward, for delivery, tests, and first specialist outpatient attendance. Non-residents who turn up at emergency wards without a booking would be charged HK$48,000, including an additional HK$9,000 surcharge 'to reflect the intensity of work for emergency admission', the authority said. The fees will be collected at the first specialist outpatient attendance by the mainland women. Extra attendance and hospital stay will generate further charges, including HK$3,300 for a one-night stay in a general ward. The fees are subject to approval by the government and the Legislative Council. If passed, the authority hoped the new fees would be implemented in the first quarter of next year, said authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk. Many aspects of the package were signalled in advance as the authority sought ways to deal with the problem of births to non-eligible persons, which account for 30 per cent of all births at public hospitals. Other measures include recruiting more nurses and midwives, expanding obstetric services as required, enhancing the antenatal booking system, and better liaison with the private sector. Hospital Authority chief executive Shane Solomon said the new fees had been arrived at by looking at the costs of neonatal services and costs associated with bad debts. 'We also looked at the private market and tried to set a fee that would at least encourage mainland mothers to think of the private sector first and the authority last,' he said. The authority's director for professional services and operations, Allen Cheung Wai-lun, said the measures would cost an additional HK$110 million, including HK$65 million for nurses' salaries. Ella Lau, a pregnant woman who helped organise a protest to fight for local mothers' rights last month, was disappointed. 'The discount for mainland women who have had antenatal checks may only encourage more to come for both antenatal and delivery services. This will deprive local women of the public resources. This is unfair to us.' Private Hospitals' Association chairman Alan Lau Kwok-lam said the effect of increased fees might be that mainlanders would move to the private hospitals. 'But we are already running at full capacity. We can't receive more. The authority has to be cautious that more mainland women may rush to the emergency units at the last minute,' he said. Meanwhile, the head of the Centre for Health Protection, Leung Pak-yin, will move to the Hospital Authority to become its new director for quality and safety. The centre was set up in 2004 with Dr Leung as its controller in the aftermath of the Sars outbreak in 2003.