The Hospital Authority has proposed refunding about half of the HK$39,000 obstetric fee paid by mainland women who book a public bed for delivery but later suffer miscarriages. The new refund arrangement is expected to be gazetted and implemented late next month. Mainlanders have to pay HK$39,000 when they book an obstetric package in a public hospital, which includes a confirmed booking certificate, an antenatal check, delivery and three days of hospital care. The charges are non-refundable, a policy the authority says is aimed at minimising waste and discouraging women from not turning up because some may double-book at private hospitals. But the policy has drawn criticism in recent months after couples complained that they could not get a refund after the wives had miscarried. A Hong Kong man sought help from the Consumer Council last month after Eastern Hospital refused a refund after his mainland wife had a miscarriage on the mainland. Under a new proposal to be discussed by the authority's board today, a partial refund of HK$20,000 is considered in two cases. The first covers miscarriage, termination of pregnancy and stillbirth in non-authority hospitals. The second is on a change in status from non-local to local between payment of the package charge and delivery. A paper states: 'This refund amount is the ballpark figure of average cost of childbirth, that is the services not utilised due to the change of circumstances of the non-local pregnant women.' It stressed that a refund under these circumstances would not be an entitlement but subject to an application and approval process. An authority spokeswoman earlier explained that if a mainland woman had a miscarriage in a public hospital, she was regarded as having used the obstetric and gynaecology services and so still had to pay. Clement Lui Kin, a spokesman for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the refund should be raised to 70 per cent, or HK$27,300. He said women who miscarried in public hospitals should pay charges based on the regular service charges for non-locals, instead of the obstetric package fees. To address the shortage of services due to an influx of pregnant mainlanders, the authority in February raised obstetric package fees for non-locals from HK$20,000 to HK$39,000 for booked cases and HK$48,000 for non-booked cases.