HK to restrict number of mainland mothers-to-be

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Around 3,000 non-local pregnant women will be able to give birth in Hong Kong's eight public hospitals next year, a sharp drop from this year's 10,000, as the region turns away more mainland mothers-to-be to ease pressure on strained medical resources.

Private hospitals will take in 30,000 non-local pregnant women next year, the same as 2010, China News Service reported yesterday.

Non-local women include those whose husbands are Hong Kong residents.

The Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau is expected to announce the annual quota today.

The private Union Hospital is to accept 400 non-local pregnant women, 10 percent fewer than this year. "If the reduction is too small, it won't ease doctors' workload; but if we cut the number dramatically, training of new-hired doctors will be affected. The government of the special administrative region will balance the number," said Dr Leung Kwok Ling, deputy medical director, according to China News Service.

The number of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong's public hospitals was around 10,000 last year and is expected to be the same this year.

Nearly 40,000 non-Hong Kong women have already delivered babies or made appointments to do so in private hospitals this year.

"It's a good start to set an annual number of pregnant women hospitals could take. In the long term, more medical staff are needed to meet the rising demand," said Chan Hin Biu, spokesman for the Hong Kong Neonatal Service Concern Group, the report said.

Mainland women usually have prenatal checkups on the mainland before going to Hong Kong to deliver babies, which entitles the children to Hong Kong citizenship. This puts a big strain on medical personnel and facilities in Hong Kong.

Babies born to mainland mothers in Hong Kong rose from 13,000 in 2004 to more than 40,000 last year, 45 percent of the region's newborns.

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