Doctors to join battle for election

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 November, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 November, 1993, 12:00am

GOVERNMENT doctors are planning to take part in the 1994 district board elections to prevent health care services ''being sacrificed for politics''.

The 1,000-strong Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association plans to field candidates in each of the 18 district boards to provide a territory-wide input in health care services debates.

The association will be the first professional body to launch an organised campaign to take part in direct elections and it gives government doctors their first chance to stand for election.

Suitable candidates are being lined up by the association after its council endorsed a resolution two weeks ago to support members running for election.

President Dr Chu Kin-wah described their plan as aggressive and said they would provide support to members through financial and manpower resources.

He said members would need to follow the association's line on health care issues but would be able to air individual opinions on other issues.

At least six doctors have indicated an interest, one believed to be the association's former president, Dr Chan Chi-kuen.

Dr Chan is an adviser to the medical representative in the Legislative Council, Dr Leong Che-hung.

''We can test if our professional view in health care services can have the public mandate during the election process,'' Dr Chan said.

''And we want to get the best health care services for the public through district boards with our professional knowledge and knowledge of the hospital system.'' Dr Chu said the association would like to have at least 10 candidates and a final decision will be made by the end of this year.

The association is also planning a membership drive to recruit more of the 3,000 doctors working in public hospitals.

Dr Chu said the move was prompted by recent debates on health care issues in which they believed public interest had been sacrificed for political gains.

''One of the reasons we want to participate in elections is to rectify an unhealthy phenomenon in some district boards,'' Dr Chu said.

He cited a debate on Tsuen Wan District Board over Yan Chai Hospital as an example.

The hospital was planned two years ago as a specialist maternity and children's hospital to ease pressure on Princess Margaret Hospital. However, the decision was reversed under pressure from the board and Yan Chai became another general hospital providing the same services.

The final decision meant the residents had to go without a specialist clinic.

''I think we will have a chance since I believe the public is fed up with politics. It's time they elect someone who cares about issues concerning their livelihood,'' Dr Chu said.