Hong Kong public and doctors oppose Medical Council’s proposed medical reforms, survey reveals

Poll shows majority of respondents rejected the idea of making it easier for foreign doctors to practice in the city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2017, 9:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2017, 10:24pm

Polls commissioned by medical sector lawmaker Dr Pierre Chan showed resounding opposition to controversial government reforms making it easier for foreign doctors to practice in Hong Kong.

Between November last year and this month, the general public, practitioners and medical sector members of the Election Committee were asked their opinions of the Medical Council’s proposed reforms. The Election Committee is tasked with selecting Hong Kong’s next chief executive in March.

Some 78 per cent of the 1,003 general public respondents opposed the idea of exempting overseas doctors from local examination to practise in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, 83 per cent of practitioners and 85 per cent of Election Committee respondents also opposed the plan.

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While 68 per cent of the general public respondents wanted a separate organisation to be set up to hear medical complaint cases, half of the doctors opposed it.

The survey results were released yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of a government tripartite platform – made up of legislators, medical practitioners and patients’ groups. The 21-member platform will discuss ways to enhance the operation of the Medical Council. It was set up last November after the council’s controversial reform bill failed to pass in the Legislative Council.

While doctors feared the proposed reforms could compromise health care standards, proponents accused practitioners of sacrificing patients’ interest.

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“The results show clearly that citizens are with doctors. There is no question of doctors trying to defend the sector’s interest only,” Chan said.

The Medical Council handles the registration and disciplinary regulations of Hong Kong doctors, and has recently come under fire for its lengthy handling of public complaints and for its protective attitude towards doctors.