Legco must admit more overseas doctors to practise in city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 5:06am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 6:30pm

C. K. Yeung's article ("The government must break through Hong Kong doctors' protectionist barrier", December 16) is a well-reasoned and salutary argument regarding the crying need of intervention for an urgent reform of the Medical Council in Hong Kong.

A young Hong Kong-born medical doctor, Oscar Chiu, from Southampton in the United Kingdom makes a telling point ("Solve shortage of doctors by reforming Medical Council", December 23).

The founder of the Overseas Hong Kong Medical Student Society, Dr Chiu says its membership currently stands at 240.

If the Medical Council opens its doors to admit them to practise in our public hospitals, we would have a good start, with a figure well above the average C. K. Yeung refers to "of just 11 international medical graduates (that) got through this way [mandatory licensing exam] each year between 2007 and 2011".

At present the door is closed to them. Compare that to the 400 such graduates Singapore attracts each year, and it has a smaller population than Hong Kong. We need more doctors to cater to a population of more than seven million.

Our Medical Council is much too selfish, and is showing no regard for those local patients who are in need of immediate access to our well-managed public hospitals and to those many Hong Kong-born overseas medical graduates, who want to return to serve the community. With a growing number of hospitals being opened as more outlying districts are being developed, the shortage will get worse, to the detriment of those patients in need.

These citizens should not have to wait for up to three years for treatment. Those who are in control of the Medical Council well know that those patients come from the poor and less fortunate communities, including those too old and too weak to fight back.

It is time for our executive and legislative councils to intervene. That intervention should take the form of considering setting up an authority for admission to medical practice. This new body would have the power to admit overseas doctors to practise at public hospitals for three to five years before they could be allowed to register to join a private practice in Hong Kong.

I appeal to Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who sits on both councils, to kick down the barrier and help those in urgent need of medical attention at our public hospitals.

Ronald Wong, The Peak