Public hospitals in Hong Kong – what surprised me.

Last few months were pretty life changing so I wasn’t able to write much, but here comes another post, this time about public hospital care in Hong Kong which surprised me in many ways.

1. Language.

I used both private and public clinics/hospitals and my experience when it comes to communication was quite unexpected. While private clinic nurses didn’t understand what I’m saying at all and couldn’t communicate anything to me, other than their favourite “Sign here please”, public hospital employees spoke fluent English no matter where I went. Even a cafe located in the hospital had English speaking staff!

2. Doctors.

The reason why Polish doctors in public hospitals wouldn’t understand English is age. Usually when you go see a doctor, you would expect an older person. Age equals experience for us. In HK private clinics you will still have older doctors as they have usually retired from public hospital to open their own places. In the public hospitals you will then get a doctor who seem younger than you and barely legal. When I saw some of the doctors I was quite suspicious and wouldn’t trust them at the beginning but felt reassure to see they do their job as well as the older colleagues.

3. Tradition.

Doctors in HK will always think about Chinese medicine, so you might expect them telling you exactly what to eat or what to avoid, like watermelons when you’re pregnant or so on. For some conditions, you’re not recommended to drink herbal teas or eat “cold” food, etc.

4. Attitude.

Both doctors and nurses in public hospital are professionals and can be trusted, however friendliness is not the virtue they are looking for. So while some nurses might be nice to you because they had a good day, mostly you would be treated as a bed number or piece of meat. They don’t have enough time to stop by and have longer talk with you and most of the things you say would be just ignored as “normal side effect”. The same goes with getting any more detailed information even about your own condition.

5. Medicine.

One thing that will never happen in Poland is getting medicine in the hospital. In HK, that happens in both public hospital and private clinic. You would for example get a set of vitamins that you should take until next visit, but never more. You would even get Panadol in the hospital. You never really have to visit a pharmacy to get prescribed medicine ever.

Overall, after few experiences with both public and private health care, I have to admit that I wouldn’t want to pay money for something I can get in public hospital. More than that, public hospitals seem to be even more convenient than private ones when you don’t speak a word in Cantonese. Don’t be scared of public health care in HK.


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