Government gets 30 applicants for private hospitals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 April, 2010, 12:00am

Thirty organisations have expressed interest in building private hospitals on four sites offered by the government. Industry insiders say the winning bidders are likely to target the high end of the health care market.

Sites at Wong Chuk Hang, Tung Chung, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O have been set aside for hospitals.

Wong Chuk Hang is the most popular site, with 12 organisations showing interest, including Great Eagle Group, Baptist University, Union Hospital and Asia Financial Holdings.

Nine organisations are eyeing Tung Chung, while six are interested in Tai Po. The site in Tseung Kwan O is the least popular, with only three groups showing interest.

Private Hospitals Association chairman Dr Alan Lau Kwok-lam worries there might be a 'mismatch' between the interests of the government and the bidders.

He said the government wants to build two-star private hospitals offering no-frills service to attract better-off patients who use public hospitals, but those who have submitted plans may be more interested in offering five-star medical care.

That explained why Wong Chuk Hang and Tung Chung were more popular, he said.

While Wong Chuk Hang is located in the wealthy Southern District, the Tung Chung site is near the airport, which will be convenient for medical tourists.

The site in Tseung Kwan O, on the other hand, 'looked like it could only offer cheaper services', Lau said.

The Food and Health Bureau said 21 of the 30 proposals were from local groups, seven were from overseas and two were partnerships between local and overseas companies.

The bureau also received nine submissions that did not mention development plans for a specific site but made general comments on the private health care system.

Professor Liu Liang, the dean of Baptist University's Chinese medicine faculty, said it had submitted an expression of interest in building a Chinese medicine-based teaching hospital so that its students would no longer need to travel to the mainland for clinical training.

A university spokesman said the school is interested in either the Wong Chuk Hang or Tai Po site.

Dr Lo Ka-shui, the chairman of Great Eagle, said the company had submitted an expression of interest in the Wong Chuk Hang site. Lo, a cardiologist and a former chairman of the Hospital Authority, declined to give details of the proposal.

Union Hospital, which had submitted a proposal earlier for the Wong Chuk Hang site, is also interested in developing a hospital in Tai Po with Chinese University.

Evangel Hospital in Kowloon City is interested in expanding in Tseung Kwan O but did not submit any expression of interest. It is understood it will wait until the government seeks tenders for the site.

The government invited local and overseas organisations to submit expressions of interest in December.

Health care

The government has offered four sites for private hospitals

Number of submissions the government received for the most popular of the sites, at Wong Chuk Hang: 12