Private hospitals to treat non-Covid public patients

Private hospitals are poised to start receiving non-Covid patients from the public healthcare system in a few days, in a bid to help alleviate some pressure caused by a surge of coronavirus infections.

That was according to the Private Hospitals Association’s chairman, William Ho, who said they had been discussing arrangements with the Hospital Authority (HA) over the weekend.

Ho told an RTHK programme on Monday that the HA had given the association a list of patients they can handle, including cancer patients and those with fractured bones, as some operations at public hospitals are now postponed amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“On the HA’s list are patients who have appointments in the next four weeks to have tumour operations or endoscopic surgeries, those who have blood in their urine and are waiting for cystoscopy appointments, cancer patients awaiting radiotherapy or chemotherapy, as well as obstetrics patients,” he said.

He said private hospitals will prove most useful caring for those patients as they are experienced in providing such services.

He said private hospitals should be able to provide services to these patients very soon, adding it will be most efficient if public and private hospitals communicate directly, instead of through the HA.

Dr Ho added that according to the public-private partnership model in the past, public hospital rates would apply for patients transferred to private hospitals.

But he said it won’t be practical for private facilities to take in Covid patients, because of the risk of a manpower shortage if staff are deemed to be close contacts and have to be quarantined.