The operator of Hong Kong’s public hospitals has sued a patient in a bid to collect a bill of more than HK$6 million (US$769, 230) she has racked up since November 2015. In a writ filed to the High Court on Thursday, the Hospital Authority accused Hu Huaijiao of refusing or failing to pay her medical expenses despite repeated demands. Lawyers for the authority said Hu, a mentally incapacitated woman, was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan after a traffic accident on November 11, 2015 and was transferred on August 9, 2017 to Kowloon Hospital in Mong Kok, where she remains a patient. Her outstanding bill for hospital services, maintenance fees and other related charges amounted to HK$6.17 million as of February 28. The arrears are still piling up at a daily rate of HK$5,100, the standard price for non-local residents receiving inpatient services in Hong Kong’s public hospitals. The authority is now demanding that Hu pay up with interest. The legal action comes as officials face pressure to review the authority’s administration and alleviate the heavy burden placed on public health care facilities and frontline staff. According to the authority’s financial reports, the amount of unpaid fees rose from HK$45 million in 2014 to HK$63 million last year. In 2017 there were 7,942 incidents of uncleared bills, worth HK$50.5 million in total, related to non-local patients. In the same year, the authority recorded bad debts of HK$61 million. Man diagnosed with brain tumour asks why doctors forgot to tell him Critics have suggested non-locals be required to pay before receiving treatment in the city’s public hospitals. But Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee sidestepped questions on whether the government would consider such a move. “If the bills remain outstanding after the patients’ discharge, they or their family members will be reminded through telephone calls … and monthly statements will be mailed to their Hong Kong and overseas address,” Chan said in a reply to lawmakers last year. Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, a urologist by profession, said on Friday that the proposal would contradict the city’s “patients first” principle. Instead, he suggested: “The most effective thing they can do is to set up a blacklist.” Public hospital support staff suspend protest over pay rises Kwok said non-local patients with unpaid bills could be put on the list and the authorities would consider suspending non-urgent services to them until the debts were cleared. Separate court documents revealed Hu had filed a personal injury claim with the help of her daughter, Hu Errong, and legal aid in March 2017. In that claim she accused minibus driver Ng Chun-leung of negligent driving, which she said had caused her accident in Sau Mau Ping in November 2015. The case is scheduled for pretrial review on December 13 and a four-day trial beginning on February 24 next year.