Delivering babies for mainland mothers puts a lot of pressure on Hong Kong's public hospitals. But it also brings in a lot of cash - and it might bring in more. Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok has said the government is considering raising the maternity fee at public hospitals for mainland mothers, but he offered no details. 'Public hospitals may find mainland mothers are putting pressure on local services, but they are not reluctant to give up that service because it is rather profit-making,' said Dr Leung Ka-lau, the medical sector legislator. Leung said the Hospital Authority should significantly cut its quota in order to ease the workload on staff. Hospital Authority figures show that public hospitals collect HK$400 million in fees from mainland mothers a year. Half the fees go to the government, the rest to individual hospitals. At present, the hospitals charge HK$39,000 for booked cases and HK$48,000 for non-booked cases. Patients stay three days and two nights. Last year, 10,695 mainland mothers gave birth at public hospitals, compared with 31,911 local mothers. There were as few as 628 mainland mothers in Kowloon West, and as many as 2,060 in Kowloon East. Another person familiar with the situation said the authority would cut the quota for mainland mothers in coming years, but could not ban deliveries altogether. 'Individual hospitals now have their own quota and their policy is to give priority to local mothers,' the person said. 'But it is difficult for public hospitals to close the door to all mainland mothers because it involves a macro population policy. 'And even if public hospitals shut the gate, some mainland mothers can still turn up at the accident and emergency department when they are due to give birth. Public hospitals can't turn them away.'