HUGE wastage has been found at North Lantau Hospital (北大嶼山醫院), which opened in September 2013. Equipment has been left unused on expiry of warranty, some services have still not started and one-fifth of its total area is not utilised.
The shortcomings were revealed by Director of Audit (審計署署長), David Sun Tak-kei (孫德基), who said the unused areas included wards, a day surgery centre and a canteen. The Hospital Authority (醫院管理局) blamed staff shortages and competition for manpower resources from other hospitals.
In 2010 the Legislative Council (立法會) approved funding of HK$2.48 billion for construction of the hospital’s phase one, to provide an accident and emergency department, 180 beds and specialist outpatient clinics.
Authority management said in 2011 that phase one would start to provide services in phases beginning from the third quarter of 2013 and to reach full service in the third quarter of 2016.
However, as of June this year, medical services that have not started include some 120 in-patient beds proposed for commissioning by the third quarter last year, and specialist outpatient services for gynaecology and paediatrics, which had been scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2014.
The audit found that four years after the opening of the hospital, one-fifth of its total area of 2,867 square metres have not been utilised.
Some pricey medical equipment was also underutilised, including a mobile X-ray machine, which cost HK$1.4 million, whose usage was a mere 6 percent of what had been expected. Equipment such as electric beds and wheelchairs were not put into use, although their warranty had expired.
Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority issued a statement saying that it agreed with and accepted the findings and recommendations of the Director of Audit’s report on its management of public hospital projects. It will gradually implement all the recommendations.
The Director of Audit’s Report on the Government Accounts (政府帳目審計報告書) for the year ended 31 March, 2017, and Report No 69 (第六十九號報告書) on the results of value for money audits were tabled in the Legislative Council on 22 November.
A value-for-money audit is an examination into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which any bureau, department, agencyor other public body has discharged its functions.
The report on the accounts provides an overall assurance that the financial statements properly present the assets and liabilities of the government, and the receipts and payments for the year.
The Report No 69 covers a variety of subjects on the administration of government programmes and provision of public services.
(This article is published on Student Standard on 17 December 2017)