Lawsuit threat over strike

Local | Justin Tong 20 Feb 2020

Justin Tong

An alliance of political groups and family members of hospital patients has warned of potential legal action against the Hospital Authority in the wake of the medical workers' strike two weeks ago.

The Anti-Strike Alliance for Patients, which comprises Politihk Social Strategy, Citizens Alliance and Patriotic and Protection of Hong Kong 101, received 27 cases seeking assistance, claiming patients' medical treatment was affected by the strike by medical workers.

The cases covered patients aged between 11 and 93. Twenty-three were referred by the New People's Party. They included four cancer cases, three tumor cases, three ophthalmology cases, two with heart diseases and one suffering from brain sclerosis.

The alliance wanted the responsibility over the cases to be investigated. Two deaths could be related to inadequate medical manpower and delayed treatment, patients' families worried, but the Coroner's Court has yet to rule.

"For those who reserve the right to legal proceedings, we will help them seek free legal advice, and advise them on how to proceed," said Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, lawmaker and chairwoman of the New People's Party. "The defendant will be the Hospital Authority."

The alliance claimed its legal team is still studying the relations between the cases and the strike but they believed there could be a connection.

"If you go to the hospital, you have a reasonable expectation on the medical care, but now you cannot have the care, so what caused the absence in service?" said Innes Tang Tak-shing, chairman of the Politihk Social Strategy.

Johnny Tam Ming-kei, chairman of Patriotic and Protection of Hong Kong 101, cited the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance in saying the medical staff on strike might have been involved in misfeasance in public office.

He added that the Hospital Authority has the duty to protect patients' rights, while nurses should have the integrity to save lives as civil servants.

The unprecedented week-long medical strike involved about 9,000 hospital workers from the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance in early February. They demanded the government shut down all boundary crossings to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community.

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