Dozens of members from three election committee sectors called on the police not to hinder treatment being delivered to patients at hospitals, saying medical care comes before any police investigations of the patients.
In a joint statement on Sunday, members representing the health service sector of the election committee as well as those representing the medical and legal sectors, urged the police not to intervene with the medical staff in hospitals in any manner that would affect the work of giving treatment to patients or protecting the patients’ privacy.
Any police actions of evidence collection should follow the established procedures, said the statement signed by 82 members of the election committee sectors.
The call came after Dr. Pierre Chan Pui-yin, a lawmaker who represents the medical functional constituency, told a news conference on June 17 that he had received complaints from public hospital staff that police officers had been able to access the HA patient database for information on extradition bill protesters who had sought treatment in public hospitals.
The HA confirmed Sunday night that three protesters had been arrested at hospitals — one each at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital and Yan Chai Hospital, media reports said.
The election committee members said there had earlier been media reports of police officers collecting evidence at public hospitals and even arresting the injured during their treatment.
Such actions would make people wary of seeking medical treatment out of fear that they could fall into the hands of the police, they said.
As such, the election committee members urged the police force to stop giving oral inquiries to medical staff to obtain patient’s information in hospitals, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
If quick action is deemed necessary, the police should first apply for a court warrant and then a written medical report from the hospital concerned before engaging with an injured patient.
Dr. Alfred Wong Yam-hong, a member representing the health services subsector, said it is absolutely not proper for officers to collect evidence in hospitals or even enforce law.
Wong called on senior management of the Hospital Authority (HA) to express a clear stance on the issue of police collecting evidence at hospitals.
Another member of the health service sector cited some medical staff as saying that they had noticed police officers wandering near the wards without wearing their identity badges, as well as eavesdropping on the medical staff before forcing them to provide patients’ data in a threatening manner.
In response to an inquiry from HKEJ on the matter, police said Section 50 of the Police Force Ordinance provides that “it shall be lawful for any police officer to apprehend any person who he reasonably believes will be charged with or whom he reasonably suspects of being guilty of” any offense for which the person may be sentenced to imprisonment without any warrant for that purpose.
The police stressed that officers, when they conduct investigations in hospitals, do not hinder anyone from receiving treatment and that they absolutely respect patients’ privacy.
People who try to accuse officers are welcome to provide any concrete evidence for follow-up action, police said, expressing concern over what called unfounded accusations.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, responding to a claim that a healthcare staff at the hospital’s accident and emergency department did not handle a patient’s data properly, said on Monday that it will follow up on the alleged claim in accordance with the existing complaints handling mechanism.
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