The Medical Council is to give the public more detailed explanations of its verdicts and penalties after the outcry over its lenient punish ment of a surgeon who removed a pregnant woman's uterus. After a meeting with members, council chairman Dr Lee Kin-hung said last night: 'We have decided to offer more detailed judgments as these are clearly what the public needs. We will try to make clear to the public how certain judgments and punishments were decided.' The change was announced following heavy criticism of the council for its lenient punishment of surgeon Albert To Chung-fung, whose 'unnecessary and inappropriate' surgery caused a pregnant woman to lose her unborn child and left her sterile. The private doctor was found guilty of professional misconduct at a hearing last month, but his punishment consisted solely of a warning letter. The decision caused an outcry and led to allegations that the council was acting in the interests of doctors and not patients. The council, as a professional disciplinary body, is empowered to mete out punishments ranging from warning letters to reprimands and removal from the medical register. Dr Lee said people should have faith in the council's decision-making process as members acted according to their professional judgment. He declined to give further details about what form the more detailed tribunal explanations would take. Hong Kong Patients' Rights Association spokeswoman Lilian Lau Sau-han welcomed the move. 'We consider it is a step forward towards making the council more open,' she said. 'We believe the most important thing is fairness. The complainant and the defendant should both know clearly exactly why and how the penalty and judgment are reached.' She said recent discontent did not mean that the Patients' Rights Association opposed the council. 'However, if it is not open enough, it will be very difficult to convince the public that its rulings are fair,' she said. Ms Lau said that although it would be asking too much to expect doctors to have adequate legal knowledge, there should be more legal support available to them when making their decisions. She said complainants should be allowed to have a lawyer present when testifying at council hearings. Ms Lau also urged the council to review its appeal system. 'There may be a conflict of roles. The receiving, the investigating and the ruling on a complaint are all done single-handedly by the council,' she said.