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Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Appeal against Hong Kong Medical Council decision to ban doctor over patient’s death should follow proper channel

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 3:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 11:28pm

The recent verdict from the Medical Council, that a doctor’s name be temporarily removed from the general register, has sparked heated debate among medical professionals (“Hong Kong doctor Wong Cheuk-yi banned for six months over death of elderly cancer patient”, May 9).

I read news reports saying that Dr Gabriel Choi Kin, president of the Medical Association, has written a formal complaint letter on behalf of the association, urging the Medical Council to revisit or review its verdict – on the grounds that several thousand doctors are dissatisfied with the ruling.

While I haven’t had the privilege of reading Dr Choi’s letter to the council, judging by what I read in the papers, I take the view that it was highly inappropriate of Dr Choi to send such a letter.

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In fact, Dr Choi is not only the incumbent president of the Medical Association, he is also one of the elected members of the Medical Council. In addition, he was the chairman of the preliminary investigation committee when this case was first submitted, but it was subsequently rejected by the committee.

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He should, therefore, be very familiar with the rules and operation of the Medical Council. He should also avoid any potential conflict of interest in the eyes of the public, due to his several commitments.

In this case, I am told that since the parties concerned have agreed on the facts, they have not called for factual and expert evidence. The defendant also admitted the charge in the closing submission by his counsel. As no evidence has been elicited, under the present regime of the Medical Council, the panel members are not in a position to review their verdict. 

Meanwhile, since 11 out of the 14 elected members of the Medical Council are active members of the Medical Association, the letter from the president of the Medical Association may exert unnecessary pressure on the Medical Council panel to revisit the verdict, with a view that the association disapproved of their present verdict.

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In this regard, since the period for appeal has not expired, I think doctors should air the grievance only through the proper channel to show their respect and honour towards the rule of law.

Lau Kar Wah, solicitor, Central