An auditor’s report has lambasted the North Lantau Hospital over its wasteful use of space and medical equipment.
Four years after being commissioned, a fifth of the hospital remains empty while tens of millions of dollars of equipment is under-used or has not been used at all, the report found.
In its October report to Legco, the Audit Commission revealed that of the hospital’s 13,729 sq m, 2,867 sq m remained empty or “had not been utilised for the intended functions,” including 2,204 sq m in space allocated for wards.
In one instance, the commission staff recorded an empty ward being used as a gym.
The report also found that of the ten major items of medical equipment, seven were being used at a rate below 60% of the forecast level.
These included a HK$7 million heart scanning unit being used at a 22% rate, and a prescription dispenser and an anaesthetics information system, each costing more than HK$3 million, being used at below 50%.
Many smaller items had never been used at all, including 42 electric beds and ten electric wheelchairs.
The report noted that some medical services had still not been commissioned, such as an out-patient gynaecology and paediatrics service that had been promised for 2014, and the provision of day-beds for day surgery patients, proposed for 2016.
It chastised Hospital Authority (HA) management for failing to keep the board informed about the status of these services and on when they were expected to be deployed.
The commission urged the HA to make more precise estimates of its requirements and to determine whether under-utilised spaces and equipment could be put to gainful use.