More than 2,000 doctors will be encouraged to complete at least 15 hours of study and sit examinations each year to keep up with medical advances. The Hong Kong Medical Association has endorsed the voluntary programme for general practitioners (GPs). Doctors who pass the examinations will be able to display a certificate in their clinics. Courses for GPs are currently organised by some doctors' groups and medical colleges. Under the programme, the Medical Association will co-ordinate the courses and keep records of each doctor's achievements. Co-chairman of the association's committee organising the programmes, Dr Louis Shih Tai-cho, said the courses for GPs would be less rigorous than those currently required of specialists. 'For non-specialists . . . 15 hours of study per year will be a good start. But this is only a preliminary target, and we will keep reviewing it,' Dr Shih said. Some doctors have complained that existing courses were difficult to attend because of inconvenient times or locations. To combat this, the association will start holding the courses at regional public hospitals in remote areas in July. 'With the help of the Hospital Authority, courses will be held in hospitals in Tai Po and North District for local doctors so they will not have to travel all the way to Central or Wan Chai for a course,' Dr Shih said. 'The timing will also be better. Some courses will start at 9pm instead of 7pm, so more busy doctors can join.' Doctors in the same district would also be able to get together regularly to exchange views. The Medical Council recently ruled that continuing education should not be mandatory for doctors and there should be no punishment for those who failed to study.