The wards of every public hospital in Hong Kong exceeded their capacity on Monday, as patients reported queuing for over eight hours to see a doctor.

Flu season statistics from the Hospital Authority show that almost 6,600 people sought accident and emergency department treatment on the fourth day of Lunar New Year, and some 1,100 people were admitted into care.

flu hospital authority ward medical A&E accident and emergency
Photo: Hospital Authority.

The in-patient bed occupancy rates of every hospital aside from North Lantau Hospital and the newly-opened Tin Shui Wai Hospital – which do not have accident and emergency wards – exceeded 100 per cent.

Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long, Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan and United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong all reported occupancy rates of over 130 per cent.

Apple Daily reported that non-urgent patients seeking accident and emergency department treatment at the Prince of Wales Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital all had to wait for over eight hours to see a doctor. Some queued for over 14 hours or had to wait overnight.

Kwong Wah Hospital
The A&E ward at Kwong Wah Hospital on Monday.

Francis Chan, dean of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s medical school, wrote on Facebook after a hospital visit that temporary beds were placed in every corner of the ward, including corridors, blocking off access to the sink and sterilisation facilities.

“The staff at the ward can’t get a breath. They must treat illnesses, allocate medicine and injections, care for patient needs (including removing faeces), talk to family members on patients’ situations, fill in hospital records… I feel very sad seeing the ward look like a wet market and a battlefield.”

Chan said that the services of public hospitals have never caught up with societal demands, and added that it was inevitable that staff would make mistakes in such an environment.

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Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.