Police close their posts at hospitals over insults

Top News | Cindy Wan 27 Jun 2019

Police have stopped running posts at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Yan Chai Hospital after incidents in which officers were insulted by medical staff.

As a temporary arrangement, police officers will patrol around the hospitals instead of at the police post.

They will return to the hospitals to provide assistance if necessary, a police spokesman said.

"If the two hospitals need urgent assistance, they can dial the hotline on 999 or the district police stations," he said. A notice was placed outside the police post at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, saying people can dial 999 for emergency incidents and call the Yau Ma Tei Police Station in the event of non-urgent affairs.

It is understood that the temporary arrangement was made to respond to frontline police officers' complaints about being treated impolitely and verbally insulted by medical staff.

But the Hospital Authority heard from the police that they did not have enough manpower to continue service at the police posts, a source at the authority suggested.

In response to the new patrolling arrangements, a spokesman of the Hospital Authority said it has expressed its concerns to the police.

The police force and the Hospital Authority will hold a meeting to resolve the incidents, but the time and date have yet to be confirmed. What added fuel to the escalating tensions between medical staff and police was a statement released by the Junior Police Officers' Association yesterday.

It fired back at the medical sector in a strong tone, saying priority should be given to catching criminals rather than protecting the privacy of patients.

The police should do anything to arrest lawbreakers, and gaining access to patients' information is one way to facilitate arrests, the statement said. "If all criminals refuse to provide information to the police with privacy protection as their reasons, why won't Hong Kong become a haven for criminals?" it added.

In the statement with the heading "behave yourself" - a mocking pointer to how doctors held banners saying "behave" to criticize policemen - the association demanded an apology to the city's 30,000 police officers.

But medical representative Alfred Wong Yam-hong said the statement had many misconceptions, including calling suspected patients "criminals."

They are only considered suspects after being convicted by the courts and thus have all the basic rights to privacy.

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