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Reduced Birth Quota Considered for Non-Local Mothers

Categories:Hong Kong, Maternity, Medical Insurance, News, Uncategorized |Published on May 20, 2013

News has emerged today that the Hong Kong Hospital Authority may be considering a reduction in the number of non-local mothers able to give birth at Public hospitals in the city. Alternatively, a complete cessation in the admittance of non-resident mothers to Hong Kong public hospitals is also being considered, according to a statement from a senior Hospital Authority representative.

In recent months there has been a large amount of debate in Hong Kong regarding the ability of non-local mothers, specifically those from Mainland China, to use public maternity services at Hong Kong Public Hospitals with which to give birth. Claims have been made that this has severely affected the ability of local residents to access maternity services, and has strained the overall ability of Hong Kong’s healthcare system to deal in a surge of patients.

In order to assure local residents that they would have access to public maternity services the Hong Kong government introduced a quota in 2010 limiting the number of non-residents able to give birth in public Hospitals to 10,000. However, in 2011 the number of births in Hong Kong’s public hospitals rose above 45,000 for the first time; massively exceeding the ability of public healthcare facilities to cater for the patients.

As such, at the start of 2012 a reduced quota was imposed on non-residents wishing to use Public hospitals in Hong Kong to deliver their children; the 2012 quota for non-local births was set at 3,400 – much lower than the figure seen in 2010.

Despite the newly downgraded quota being imposed Maternity services at public hospitals are fully booked until September 2012, leading the Hospital Authority to question whether the revised quota of 3,400 births is sufficient to allow proper access to these services by Hong Kong residents.

Not included in the official hospital delivery statistics are the numbers of non-local mothers who did not pre-book a bed at a maternity facility in Hong Kong, but rather elected to rely on emergency room facilities to deliver their child. Insiders who remain cautiously critical of the decision to reduce the quota for non-resident births suggest that lowering the figure would merely see more pregnant women utilize emergency facilities to deliver their children. 1,656 births were recorded last year from mothers who delivered at public emergency room facilities.

Hospital Authority officials have deemed the quota necessary, despite widespread protestations that it is unfair to non-resident mothers, due to the need to increasing workloads being placed on Hong Kong’s doctors and the public healthcare system. Furthermore, some officials have questioned whether it would be feasible to stop pregnant non-resident mothers at Hong Kong’s borders if the quota for the year has already been reached in an effort to prevent crippling strain from overburdening the city’s emergency services.

A committee, chaired by Secretary for Food and Health, York Chow, is currently in session to discuss the plans on how to cope with increased demand for public healthcare services in the future. The non-resident birth quota and availability of public healthcare services are expected to be further discussed over the coming months.

However, it is not just Hong Kong’s public hospitals which are feeling the strain of increased patient demand. The Matilda Hospital, widely considered Hong Kong’s leading private maternity facility, is currently facing unprecedented demand from expectant mothers. Christine Lau, Deputy General Communications Manager for the Matilda, recently posted further clarification on the Matilda’s capacity on the AsiaXpat advice forum:

We (at Matilida International Hospital) have read several threads recently discussing maternity booking arrangements at our hospital. Some ladies have mentioned a “waiting list.” We are writing to clarify that there is no waiting list, and any cancellation notification ladies received from our hospital is final. All obstetricians are aware of the number of their deliveries that we can accept and as such, ladies receiving such a notification are strongly advised to work with their doctors for alternative arrangements.”

This follows a number of confused expectant mothers receiving a cancellation notice for their booking.

Hong Kong Health Insurance has had no response to our enquiries as to whether these mothers had already paid the HK$ 20,000 non-refundable deposit for the Matilda’s maternity services.


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