Only half of Hong Kong’s private clinics wishing to provide specialist medical services have applied for a license to do so, the regulator overseeing them has revealed.
According to government statistics, 167 provisional authorizations and 43 full authorizations for one-day intervention centers had been issued at the end of September, with 37 pending requests, which is only half of the 400 to 500 centers estimated by the Ministry of Health when drafting the ordinance. .
During the same period, the Office for the Regulation of Private Health Care Facilities has received 14 complaints about private hospitals and day care centers since the new licensing rules came into effect in January.
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Facilities that are unlicensed by June of next year cannot perform eight invasive procedures.
“Some centers can only provide the specialized services a few times a month, therefore they would choose to register as a clinic and refer their patients to other accredited centers instead of obtaining a procedural center license. day, “Sarah Choi Mei-yee, said the regulator official.
Choi added that some centers may have closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ordinance mainly regulates the premises where licensed doctors and dentists work. It stipulates that eight specialized services, including anesthesia and hemodialysis procedures, must take place in a hospital or an approved day intervention center.
The other six procedures are chemotherapy, interventional radiology and lithotripsy, surgery, endoscopy, dental procedures, and radiation therapy.
A beauty salon that provides medical services must apply for a day intervention center or clinic license, depending on what it provides.
Choi said the number of requests had slowed, adding that she believed most centers had already applied or were clear on the process for doing so, as her office had held information sessions for private doctors. .
Officials commented on the progress of the license weeks after a doctor was jailed for six years for manslaughter of a fatal liposuction procedure at a beauty center in 2014.
Dr Vanessa Kwan Hau-chi was the third doctor in five years to go to prison for gross negligence manslaughter over botched beauty treatment, sparking calls for regulation of private health facilities.
Choi said the office carried out around 180 inspections of approved centers. Of the 14 complaints received, 13 concerned private hospitals and one concerned a day intervention center.
The complaints mainly concerned staff performance, communication and costs. Two of the complaints were withdrawn.
No high-risk regulatory violations have been discovered since January, the department said, but authorities have issued newsletters on eight minor violations, including for incomplete medical records.
“Most of the complaints and violations did not involve serious incidents, they mainly concerned billing or communication issues. They are easily resolved if both sides are open and willing to discuss the matter, ”Choi said.
When asked if the government should require medical beauty services and plastic surgery to be performed by a specialist, Choi said it was a decision by the Food and Health Bureau and the Academy. of Hong Kong Medicine.
Choi said she believes the number of specialty services covered by the order is sufficient.
“We have covered incidents that have occurred in the past in the ordinance,” she said. “We have a responsibility to monitor the development of the industry and update the list accordingly. While I can’t promise it has to be perfect, we’ll do our best to follow up. “
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