21 February 2019
A doctors' group has voiced concern about proposed reforms related to the Medical Council of Hong Kong. Photo:
A doctors' group has voiced concern about proposed reforms related to the Medical Council of Hong Kong. Photo:

Doctors oppose addition of more lay members to Medical Council

A doctors’ group has expressed reservations about a government proposal to add four lay members to the Medical Council of Hong Kong (MCHK).

The Hong Kong Medical Association said on Sunday that it fears bringing in more non-medical members will jeopardize the council’s professional autonomy.

The objection came as the Legislative Council is set to hold a public hearing on Tuesday on the government’s proposals to amend the Medical Registration Ordinance, under which the MCHK is mandated to investigate complaints and hold disciplinary inquiries into medical practitioners in the city.

One of the proposals is to increase the lay members from four to eight in MCHK, with three of the new ones to be elected by patient groups and one appointed by the Consumer Council.

If the proposals are approved, lay representation in the council will increase from 14 percent to 25 percent.

The Food and Health Bureau said its proposals, which come as part of broader Medical Council reform, are aimed at enhancing the transparency, accountability and credibility of MCHK.

However, the Medical Association said a survey of its 2,088 doctor members shows 80 percent of the doctors are opposed to the proposed reform, Ming Pao Daily reports.

According to the survey, which was conducted between March and June, 65 percent of the respondents will support a protest if the proposal is tabled for deliberation and voting in the Legco.

More than 60 percent want the two seats occupied by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine to be selected through election instead of appointment.

But the Patients’ Rights Association claimed the survey cannot represent all doctors, as its valid response rate was only about 15 percent, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Tim Pang Hung-cheong, the patient group’s convener, said its own survey shows 64 percent of the 1,251 respondents agreed to increasing lay representation in MCHK.

Pang criticized the medical professionals for deviating from the mainstream opinion in society.

Dr. Gabriel Choi Kin, president of the Medical Association, meanwhile criticized patient groups, saying they are ill-informed, Apple Daily reports.

Choi said the association will have a meeting with Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan to discuss the issue.

Former health secretary Dr. Ko Wing-man, who pushed for the reforms during his term, told a radio program on Sunday that he believes the inclusion of more lay members in MCHK is acceptable.

He urged lawmakers not to use extreme measures to block the reform proposals that allow more public participation in monitoring doctors.

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