Some suggest a good outsider is ideal replacement for retiring Professor Lam The University of Hong Kong might be better off recruiting from overseas to replace the medical faculty dean, Lam Shiu-kum, who resigned last week citing personal reasons, said some faculty members. Some professors said the deanship should also return to being an elective post, which had been a long-held tradition until 2003 when the position became an appointed one in the middle of Professor Lam's deanship. Professor Lam was elected as dean in 2001. While saying it was business as usual at the faculty, several said there was frustration. A staff meeting is expected today - the university's Foundation Day - to be presided over by acting dean Raymond Liang Hin-suen. It is believed Professor Liang, who is also associate dean and has in the past been acting dean when Professor Lam was on leave, would try to boost morale. The resignation of Professor Lam, a gastroenterologist, will go to the university council later this month. He has formally handed his resignation to Vice-Chancellor Tsui Lap-chee, 17 months before his five-year term expires. The university revealed it had convened a commission of inquiry to investigate private patients' billing procedures in the faculty. The Hospital Authority also announced it was auditing private billings at Queen Mary, the teaching hospital of HKU's medical school. The audit of billings over the past three years might also cover Prince of Wales Hospital and others to try to improve the system. A HKU insider said it might do the university good if the next dean was 'a good outsider who is strong-willed, experienced and a good communicator'. The dean should be 'someone who has achieved clinical and scientific achievement in medicine. He could be a medical scientist or a clinician. He or she has to have an academic standing in research and skills in treating patients and should have management and administrative skills.' The insider said the vice-chancellor could learn from health minister York Chow Yat-ngok, who turned to Australia to recruit Hospital Authority chief executive Shane Solomon. Clinical professors also expressed frustration at media allegations that they were profiting from private patients in public hospitals. 'In all my years in the Hospital Authority and the university, we are not seeing private patients for our own personal gain. I do not get a single cent in providing this service. I feel bad that anybody would have thought that we are seeing them outside the hospital and the university,' one said. 'For most doctors in HKU, we would not ask patients for a red packet.' Former legislator Lo Wing-lok, a HKU medical graduate, agreed the university could look overseas for the next dean. But Dr Lo believed the faculty had 'a few people who can become dean with very good reputations, good academic and administrative skills'. He said: 'I wonder if there will be too much interest in the post at this time. A well-renowned academic might think why should he take up this challenge.'