Proposed reform of Medical Council was in the public interest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2016, 8:39pm

The Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill was aborted in Legislative Council because of an insufficient quorum. It failed to pass because of the fervent yet misguided opposition of some members of the medical profession.

The proposal to introduce more lay members to the Medical Council was designed to enhance the council’s efficiency in handling complaints and disciplinary hearings.

Plagued by concerns over red tape, a lack of guidelines against conflict of interests in investigation, the council has failed Hong Kong citizens who have demanded better safeguards for their rights. An overhaul of the council is long overdue.

Representation is a problem, with only four of the 28 council members drawn from outside the profession, and the public has every reason to be concerned about a lack of representation. People want greater transparency and accountability.

Those people who were protesting outside the Legco chamber against the proposed legislation should have thought more about their actions. The changes proposed by the government were modest.

There was no justification for those opponents who had a variety of conspiracy theories. Opponents should have recognised the importance of the public interest.

What good is the Medical Council really doing if it takes so long to deal with complaints? It is hardly surprising if there is a public perception of the council protecting the interests of its members.

Making the necessary improvements of the council and having more public representation are very important in a city with an ageing population.

There have been cases of medical blunders in hospitals in Hong Kong and this strengthens the case for a more robust monitoring mechanism of the medical profession. A revamp would have given the public the necessary peace of mind.

I do not believe reforming the council would undermine the professionalism of health-care staff. I honestly think that they had nothing to fear.

In fact, having a reformed Medical Council would have been in their interest as well as that of the public.

Yet these protesting workers were relentless in their opposition, which means that we are unlikely to see any meaningful reforms of the council in the near future.

Had it been passed, the bill would not have redressed all problems in the council, but it would have provided some reassurances to the public.

Borromeo Li Ka-kit, Happy Valley