Chinese University plans to build an affordable private hospital with upfront and transparent fees aimed at middle-class patients. Discussing details of the ambitious HK$2 billion plan for the first time, vice-chancellor Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu said the proposed private hospital in Tai Po would have fixed-salary doctors so their service charges would be fixed as well. The idea, he said, was that patients would know in advance how much they had to pay before having an operation or treatment. 'All the charges and fees will be very transparent,' he said. 'Patients will know how much they are going to pay for their procedures. Doctors' fees in most private hospitals vary a lot. At our proposed hospital, doctors' fees will be fixed. It will be a new charging model in the private sector.' As the hospital would be non-profit, Sung hoped the government would charge only a token land premium. The government offered four sites for new private hospitals to increase the supply of private beds to coincide with health care reforms and to encourage more people to buy private medical insurance. The administration will start the tendering process for the sites at Wong Chuk Hang, Tung Chung, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O later this year. Thirty organisations have expressed interest. The university commissioned a hospital plan and is now ready to bid for the Tai Po site to build a 300-bed hospital. It will provide services in major specialties such as internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and ophthalmology. The university will wholly own the proposed private hospital and doctors will be hired separately from its medical school. 'The new hospital will have cutting-edge medical technology and will help relieve the burden on public hospitals,' Sung said. 'We hope the government will charge just a nominal land premium as we are not aiming at making a profit. All profits will be used in hospital development and research.' He said the hospital should be financially sustainable because the demand for quality private medical services in Hong Kong was very high. Medical services at the hospital would be similarly priced to the private services offered at public hospitals. Public hospitals now charge private patients according to government gazetted prices. Charges for all tests, treatment and surgery are fixed. The small hospital would concentrate on services that did not require long stays. Doctors have been quitting in droves from public hospitals, but Sung said the university's proposed private hospital would help retain talent. 'Some university or public doctors want to leave the public sector but they don't want to go fully private,' he said. 'The new hospital could attract those doctors.' The new hospital is earmarked to become the Chinese University medical faculty's second training and research centre. At present, faculty doctors teach medical students at Sha Tin's Prince of Wales Hospital but some have private patients at the nearby private Union Hospital. Doctors working for the proposed new private hospital would be hired separately from the university's medical faculty. Doctors from the medical faculty are government-funded but they are allowed to do up to two private consultations per week. Sung said such an arrangement would avoid a clash between private and public services. The government requires new operators to provide a mix of services with a minimum number of beds - and no more than 20 per cent of beds should be allotted to maternity wards, according to a person familiar with government tendering. 'We have to think carefully how these rules can be enforced,' the person said. 'For example, what will be the penalty on operators if they fail to provide the required services. All these details have to be drawn up before the tendering.' Tim Pang Hung-cheong, spokesman for the Patients' Rights Association, said the government should give priority to non-profit groups such as universities in the private hospitals projects as they would provide services for the underprivileged.