More patients transferred to private hospital to ease strain caused by Hong Kong’s flu crisis

Eight moved from overcrowded Queen Elizabeth, where waiting time for a bed on its medical ward has stretched to over five hours

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 12:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 10:06pm

Eight patients from Queen Elizabeth Hospital were transferred to the privately run St Teresa’s Hospital on Wednesday as part of measures to ease overcrowding at public hospitals during peak flu season.

The patients, some on stretchers and wheelchairs, left the hospital in Yau Ma Tei separately in two groups in the morning, both sent by non-emergency ambulances, and arrived at St Teresa’s in Kowloon City at around 10.25am and 10.50am.

First patients transferred to Hong Kong private hospital amid flu crisis

They came from the orthopaedics, gynaecology and surgical wards.

“I think the facilities [at St Teresa’s] are better,” a patient surnamed Chan, 26, said.

The man, who was injured in a fall and was receiving care in the orthopaedics ward at Queen Elizabeth, said a doctor arranged the transfer and he expected to be discharged in a day or two.

The arrangement is part of a plan to share the burden of public hospitals, which have had an influx of inpatients during the summer flu peak period. Other measures include asking doctors serving the Department of Health to work part-time at public hospitals and adding 8,000 places at public outpatient clinics by September.

Latest statistics from the department showed 372 severe flu cases, including 249 deaths, had been recorded since May.

In total 48 beds have been made available in St Teresa’s until the end of September for public hospital patients, who would be eligible for transfer if they were in stable condition when recovering from surgery.

Queen Elizabeth, the first public hospital to send patients to a private institution under the scheme, had a bed occupancy rate of 117 per cent in its medical ward on Tuesday, higher than the overall rate of 109 per cent.

Signs at its accident and emergency ward in the morning showed that non-urgent patients had to wait over two hours to be treated. The supply of beds at the medical ward remained “tight”, with patients needing to wait over five hours to be admitted.