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Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong surgeon who left operation halfway through offered new job by mainland Chinese hospital

Concerns raised over reported appointment at University of Hong Kong-linked HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, which comes after school chose not to renew Dr Kelvin Ng’s contract

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 May, 2018, 10:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 10:56am

A surgeon who left a patient open on an operating table last year while he worked at a different hospital will reportedly take up a job at a mainland Chinese hospital affiliated with a Hong Kong university, despite the school’s medical faculty not renewing his contract earlier this year.

Dr Kelvin Ng Kwok-chai will begin his new job at the University of Hong Kong-linked HKU-Shenzhen Hospital in July at the earliest, according to local media reports.

A spokesman for HKU’s medical faculty said the school was “aware of the appointment” but added: “For details of the employment arrangement, please contact HKU-Shenzhen Hospital directly.”

When contacted, Professor Lo Chung-mau, chief executive of the HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, would only say via text message that he had “not yet talked [to] Dr Ng”.

“No contract ever signed,” he said in a second message. Pressed again on whether Ng would work at HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, Lo replied: “I hope so.”

Ng did not reply to the Post’s inquiry.

Ng was embroiled in controversy after he rushed to a private hospital to perform a scheduled procedure on October 13 last year, midway through a liver transplant at Queen Mary Hospital.

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The patient at the public hospital, also a teaching hospital under HKU, was left in the operating theatre for three hours before Ng returned to finish the job.

At that time, Ng, who was in private practice, served as an honorary consultant at Queen Mary, which was facing a manpower shortage. Under the arrangement, Ng, who earned his MBBS from HKU in 1995, was free to treat other patients at private hospitals in the city.

He was also concurrently a part-time associate professor at HKU’s department of surgery.

An investigation panel formed by Queen Mary found Ng’s conduct “unacceptable” and “unnecessary”. 

In February, HKU’s dean of medicine Professor Gabriel Leung said the university would no longer employ Ng after the expiry of his contract, which had a few months left to run.

Lo, who is also director of Queen Mary Hospital’s liver transplant centre, said then it was a pity that Ng’s contract could not be renewed.

[The recruitment] gives the public a feeling that Lo has applied his own authority to open a vacancy for Ng
Kwok Ka-ki

“It is a loss to the public medical sector,” Lo said at the time. “It is not easy to train a doctor to such a high standard. Dr Ng has some valuable qualities in that he is both capable and caring to patients.” 

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, a urologist, said what the public was most concerned about was whether the recruitment by the Shenzhen hospital had bypassed the HKU medical faculty’s decision not to renew Ng’s contract.

“[The recruitment] gives the public a feeling that Lo has applied his own authority to open a vacancy for Ng,” Kwok said. 

He said he supported Ng as an experienced liver transplant surgeon to continue to serve the public, but said he and Lo should explain what had happened in the October incident and offer an assurance that nothing like that would happen again.

On Sunday, the spokesman for HKU’s medical faculty added: “HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, and Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital are all teaching hospitals under HKU Health System. 

“They also have autonomy in their governance structure, including in personnel matters. ”