Eight-hour waits in emergency rooms as Hong Kong hospitals feel flu season surge over Christmas holidays
Public hospital wards saw overall occupancy rate of 108 per cent on Christmas Day
Public hospitals across Hong Kong were overloaded during Christmas as the winter flu season hit, with non-urgent patients complaining about waits of up to eight hours at the busiest emergency wards.
On Christmas Day, medical wards saw an overall occupancy rate of 108 per cent, up from 104 per cent on Christmas Eve – meaning temporary beds were laid out in corridors and between other beds, according to the Hospital Authority.
The occupancy rate was 97 per cent on Christmas Day last year.
The seasonal strain hits the public health sector every year as the influenza virus hits its winter peak when most private clinics are closed for the holidays and more public doctors are on leave.
“During the winter surge, the authority is closely monitoring the demand at public hospitals,” a spokesman said.
Some 5,701 patients visited public emergency units over Christmas, compared with 5,342 last year.
Non-urgent patients visiting emergency wards at Kwong Wah Hospital in Kowloon had to wait for up to eight hours before being seen by a doctor.
Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long saw the most crowded medical wards with an occupancy rate of 129 per cent, followed by United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong with 121 per cent.
The public hospitals saw a shortage of about 250 doctors at all times, as it employs only 40 per cent of the city’s doctors but cares for 90 per cent of the local patients.
Hong Kong Medical Association, the city’s largest doctors’ group, published a list of 13 private clinics that remained open during the holiday to help ease demand