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Marrying the public and the private

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7226.10 (Published 01 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:10

With Hong Kong's health service facing reorganisation, Jane Parry meets Yeoh Eng Kiong, the man who has to come up with the solutions

When Hong Kong's health and welfare secretary, Dr Yeoh Eng Kiong, opened his morning paper recently, he could be forgiven for feeling a twinge of regret at having said that he welcomed public criticism of Hong Kong's hospitals. The press gave prime coverage to the revelation that a surgeon had negotiated the purchase of a new car on his mobile phone while performing an operation to remove a polyp from a patient's colon. The doctor tore the patient's colon and a second operation was needed. But no action was taken against the doctor until the patient went to the press.

In the resulting furore, the newspapers excoriated both the doctor's hospital and Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, the body responsible for running the city's 43 public hospitals. And Dr Yeoh, as the most senior civil servant in charge of Hong Kong's health service, has to field such criticism.

Yet in many ways Dr Yeoh has been the saviour of Hong Kong's hospital system. When he became head of the Hospital Authority in 1991, hospitals were run by a range of organisations, including the government and 23 other bodies. The hospitals were …

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