Waiting time in public hospitals: case study of total joint replacement in Hong Kong

Yee man Tsui, Ben Y.F. Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review the causes of long waiting time in Hong Kong public hospitals and to suggest solutions in the service, organisational, systems, financial and policy perspectives. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is a review of waiting time of public hospital services. Total joint replacement, which is one of the elective surgeries in public hospitals, is presented as a case study. Findings: The average waiting time of semi-urgent and non-urgent patients in the accident and emergency departments of public hospitals is two hours, and that of specialist outpatient (SOP) clinics is from 1 to 144 weeks. For total joint replacement, it is from 36 to 110 months. Measures like Government subsidisation programme for the replacement surgery and employing adequate physiotherapists, Chinese medicine practitioners, clinical psychologists and nurses to reduce the waiting time are suggested. Issues concerning the healthcare system of Hong Kong, such as structural reform, service delivery model, primary care, quality and process management, and policy reviews, are also discussed. Originality/value: The ‬over-reliance of public services has resulted in long waiting time in public hospitals in Hong Kong, particularly in the emergency services and SOP clinics. However, the consequences of long waiting period for surgical operations, though much less discussed by the media and public, can be potentially detrimental to the patients and families, and may result in more burdens to the already stretched public hospitals‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Administration and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018


  • Avoidable hospitalization
  • Policy reviews
  • Post-operative care
  • Primary care
  • Total joint replacement
  • Waiting time


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