Medical candidates not asked about hospital-financing reform

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2008, 12:00am

Controversial plans to reform financing of the public health system do not appear to be an election issue for doctors, judging from the questions asked at an election forum last night for candidates in the Legislative Council's health sector.

A wide range of issues was touched on, including the row over the naming of the University of Hong Kong medical faculty after HK$1 billion donor Li Ka-shing, universities' intake of medical students and the quest for a balance between public and private hospitals.

Non-medical issues, such as the post-retirement employment of former housing chief Leung Chin-man, got a mention at the forum, organised by the Hong Kong Medical Association.

But no one asked candidates for their views on the mandatory insurance and savings scheme proposed in the government's health care reforms, which association president Tse Hung-hing has pledged to fight.

One issue on which the four candidates for the medical sector seat were unanimous was the renaming of the faculty.

'As an alumni, we have feelings for our school,' Hong Kong Doctors Union president Henry Yeung Chiu-fat said.

'If suddenly the faculty is using the name of a businessman, I am strongly opposed,' he said,.

His view was also echoed by fellow alumnus Kwok Ka-ki, the incumbent, and University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung.

'I am in opposition, as many of the students have great feelings for the school,' Professor Ho said.

Former Public Doctors Association president Leung Ka-lau echoed their views, although he is not an alumnus.

The medical sector race in the Legislative Council election is one of the most competitive in years.

This year, the government put out for public consultation six proposals for reforming health care financing. They include: mandatory health fund contributions; charging more for users who can afford higher fees; and requiring the better off to contribute to a medical savings scheme, buy medical insurance or pay into a personal health- care reserve combining both.