Medical Council must be reformed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 4:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 4:00am

I refer to the article by C. K. Yeung ("The government must break through Hong Kong doctors' protectionist barrier", December 16).

I am a junior doctor in the UK, having just completed my training at medical school at the University of Southampton. I was born and raised in Hong Kong and wanted to attend one of the local medical schools in order to serve the Hong Kong public. But due to the high level of competition and limited number of places, I, like many others, had no choice but to go overseas.

I am also founder of the Overseas Hong Kong Medical Student Society, which currently has about 240 members. I think the article represents the views of most of our members. Many of us feel that although passing rates seem to have improved in the past year or two, there is still a lack of transparency in the exam structures of the licentiate exams. We appreciate that the Hong Kong medical licentiate exams may not be as popular as other exams such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the General Medical Council's Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test in the UK, but information on what the exams consists of is often quite limited and many rely on tips from previous candidates.

The article made an interesting point on protectionism. The government seems to have minimal control over the Hong Kong Medical Council and yet the health sector is a crucial part of Hong Kong's society and economy.

Compared to medical councils in other developed economies, the majority of the Medical Council's main committee members are practising doctors (public and private practice).

Elsewhere, for example, at the General Medical Council in the UK, lay members form up to 50 per cent of the Council [governing body] and play a major role in council decisions.

Perhaps there needs to be a change in the structure of the Hong Kong Medical Council's main committee to ensure effective social and population policies can be implemented.

With Hong Kong trying to establish itself as a leader in the medical industry and medical tourism in the region, the current policies are outdated compared to other cities such as Singapore.

The government may have plans to establish new hospitals in the city in the next few years, but with a shortage of doctors, who will be filling all these new posts?

Oscar Chiu, Southampton, England