Hong Kong’s first children’s hospital, which will focus on rare and complex cases, opened its doors on Tuesday, but inpatient services will not commence until next year. The first patients at the HK$13 billion (US$1.7 billion) Hong Kong Children’s Hospital in Kai Tak were attending for follow-up appointments at specialist outpatient clinics. Specialties for nephrology, oncology and metabolic medicine start first. On Tuesday, nine patients previously receiving follow-up care from the paediatric nephrology team at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung attended the new facility. Julian Yue Yat-hei, a 13-year-old boy who was born with one kidney and suffered from narrowing of a major blood vessel, was among them. The Tseung Kwan O resident arrived at the hospital with his mother shortly after 10am. “It feels like I’m in a private hospital, everything is brand new,” he said. His mother Fiona Cheuk said the hospital’s location and operational arrangements were more convenient. Children’s hospital will be a family affair “We don’t have to walk up and down here. In Princess Margaret Hospital, we needed to go to different floors and different blocks for registering, picking up medicine, seeing the doctor and having blood tests or ultrasound scans,” Cheuk said. “Here everything is more organised and new, so the workflow is so much faster and smoother.” So far, 260 patients had registered for follow-up appointments at the children’s hospital. They included those from the children’s cancer centres of Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin. The new hospital does not have an accident and emergency service or general outpatient clinic. Manpower woes leave children’s hospital without date for full service Dr Lee Tsz-leung, the hospital’s chief executive, said walk-in cases would not be accepted. “Patients need a doctor’s referral to book follow-up appointments here. In other words, we don’t offer a walk-in service,” Lee said. “For example, if a child suffers from milder conditions such as flu or gastroenteritis, parents ought to take them to other hospitals or clinics, and not Hong Kong Children’s Hospital.” Lee said the hospital had so far recruited around 90 per cent of the manpower it needed in the early stages, which should be sufficient to meet its needs to begin with. It will take time before the hospital, which is equipped with more than 460 beds, is fully operational. It will launch its inpatient service in phases next year, with the oncology ward the first to open in around March or April. The hospital canteen is also not yet ready. Food is available at a cafe, a kiosk selling drinks and snacks, and two vending machines. Currently one minibus and two bus routes serve the hospital. However, Li said two more minibus routes would be added early next year.