The Barriers to Healthcare Access in Hong Kong

The Barriers to Healthcare Access in Hong Kong

A recent report from the Hong Kong Doctors’ Union highlights a concerning trend of people in Hong Kong refusing further treatment despite being warned of early signs of kidney disease. The reasons behind this high refusal rate are not provided in the report, but the union has called on the government to introduce subsidised screenings for kidney disease at private clinics.

There are various factors that can contribute to a person refusing medical treatment, including age, marital status, financial situation, family support, medical awareness, and personal choices. Hong Kong has a public healthcare system that provides quality care, but there are still barriers that deter patients from seeking help.

One person’s experience of helping their father with cancer treatment sheds light on some of these barriers. When their father underwent minor surgery at a private clinic, it was discovered that the removed tissue was a malignant tumor, and he was referred to a specialist at a public hospital. However, the process of preparing for further treatment was not straightforward.

Long waiting times for diagnostic radiology and imaging services at public hospitals meant that the patient and their family had to arrange appointments with private providers. Choosing a provider was challenging, as different providers use different machines and not all offer the specific scans requested by the doctor. Communication between the public hospital and private test centers was also complicated, with requests for clarification and reissued forms.

In addition to the challenges in diagnostic testing, there was a lack of coordination between public and private hospitals in managing patients’ pathology specimens. Obtaining the necessary specimens for further examination required a lengthy process of paperwork and communication between various parties.

These barriers to accessing healthcare in Hong Kong highlight the need for reforms to improve the effective delivery of medical services. While the public healthcare system owes much to the hard work of healthcare professionals, efforts should be made to understand and eliminate the issues that prevent patients from accessing treatment.

In the case of the person’s father, their decision not to proceed with treatment was influenced by personal circumstances. However, it raises the question of whether a smoother start in the battle against cancer would have had a different outcome.

Source: Hong Kong Doctors’ Union. “High Refusal Rate for Kidney Disease Treatment.” [No URL provided]

Source: The South China Morning Post. “The Barriers to Healthcare Access in Hong Kong.” [No URL provided]

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