The government has proposed that fees for services at the Accident and Emergency units of public hospitals be raised to HK$180, up 80 percent from HK$100 at present.
The HK$180 fee, which is lower than the HK$220 suggested by the Hospital Authority (HA) previously, will be discussed in the Legislative Council next Tuesday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man said the government arrived at the proposal after taking into consideration the views of various stakeholders during a consultation exercise.
However, the final decision can only be made after approvals at the Legco and Executive Council levels, he said.
Although the proposed increase may help reduce the misuse of emergency services, some say such an increase may place a huge financial burden on those who really need urgent medical attention, hk01.com reported.
Miss Lee, 40, who sought emergency medical service at the Queen Mary Hospital on Tuesday, said the proposed increase is reasonable.
She said the average waiting time at A&E units for not-too-serious cases is around five to six hours, but people would rather wait because they probably could not afford to go to a private hospital.
Lee said she hopes the government would allocate more resources to the medical sector.
Another female patient, 27, said raising A&E fees could help reduce cases of misuse of medical services as well as shorten the waiting time. She had been waiting three hours to see a doctor on Tuesday.
Mr. Chau, who accompanied his nine-year-old son to the A&E department on Tuesday, said some people would complain that the proposed fee “is too expensive” but would probably continue to avail themselves of the service.
But a 70-year-old patient surnamed Wong thinks that the increase is unreasonable, especially for senior citizens and retirees like him who have little income and are often troubled by chronic illnesses.
He said patients above 65 years old should be exempted from the proposed fee increase.
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