Random stabbing at Plaza Hollywood highlights need for mental health services in Hong Kong

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Professor Eric Chen (left), murder suspect Szeto (right).

5th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) A random stabbing incident at Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill has resulted in the deaths of two women, sparking widespread concern. Th 39-year-old suspect, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia for many years, was previously hospitalised for attacking family members and was required to attend regular follow-up appointments at the psychiatric outpatient clinic at Kwai Chung Hospital. He was scheduled for a follow-up appointment tomorrow (6th June), but allegedly committed the gruesome crime before the appointment.

Professor Eric Chen, Chair Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, spoke on a radio program this morning and said that the demand for mental health services in society has been consistently high. In 2007, the issue of severe shortage of psychiatric medical personnel was raised, but there has been no significant improvement in the situation.

He believes that the root of the problem lies in the mismatch of resources, as some mild psychiatric patients may not necessarily require follow-up from specialist doctors and could be referred to district health centres or private doctors for assistance. The long-discussed public-private partnership plan has not been actively implemented, and currently one-third of psychiatric doctors in Hong Kong practice in the private market. If the government vigorously promotes public-private cooperation, it would help to alleviate the burden on the public healthcare system. He believes that the Hospital Authority has room for improvement in terms of resource allocation.