The Hospital Authority is being urged to be more transparent about its plan for a new clinical practice system to improve patients' rights to information and treatment. At a seminar in June, an authority official said it planned to adopt a British system to help set guidelines on best clinical treatment and investigate the applicability of latest technologies. Vivian Wong Taam Chi-woon, director (professional services and medical development), said the authority was looking at setting up a body modelled on Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice). In a presentation at a symposium organised by the University of Hong Kong's Medical and Health Research Network, Dr Wong said Nice would 'promote high-quality treatment and technology, advise best clinical practice and set guidelines to reduce geographical variations in care'. Tim Pang Hung-cheong, spokesman for the Patients' Rights Association, who attended the symposium, said yesterday he would welcome the British-style mechanism as it would help patients to be better informed and to make choices in treatment. He cited the case of a retired woman in her 60s suffering hypertension who had been treated for years at a Hong Kong Island hospital with a specialised drug. When she moved to Tai Po early this year, doctors at Tai Po Nethersole Hospital put her on another drug, causing adverse side effects that put her in hospital for weeks. It was only when Mr Pang's association wrote to the hospital that the woman's doctor gave her a better quality medicine, Mr Pang said. 'Similar incidents would stop with Nice, as it would standardise clinical practice and doctors could have clear guidelines as to which medicine to use,' he said. But when asked about the progress of the plan, a spokesman for the authority would not reveal any further details or say whether such a body would actually be set up. Mr Pang said the authority should let the public know about its plan, especially as it had already been mentioned at the symposium. He added that it was time to review the Patients' Charter as it was 'no more than a motto'.