A legislator is proposing a reform plan for the Medical Council that he hopes can ultimately make it easier for doctors with qualifications obtained from overseas to practice in Hong Kong. Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said his plan would involve increasing the number of lay members appointed to the doctor’s watchdog. Under the plan, to be tabled in the Legislative Council, the number of lay members would go from four to eight, complementing the other 24 members, who are all doctors. READ MORE: Give us a bigger Medical Council to handle complaints, says Hong Kong doctor in wake of scathing court judgment Speaking during an RTHK talk show, Cheung said he hoped his proposal, if passed in Legco, could be a catalyst to relaxing examination requirements for doctors with overseas qualifications. He said the city had seen a shortage of doctors, especially in the public sector, leading to expensive fees at private clinics and long waiting times at hospitals. Doctors who obtained their qualifications from overseas university must pass a license examination held by the council to practice in the city. Cheung said the passing rates were low – around 20 per cent each of the last few years. He said the exams’ high threshold was an obstacle to those who obtained overseas qualifications and aspired to practice medicine locally. But Gabriel Choi Kin, a member of the Medical Council, had reservations about Cheung’s plan. He said that if the four additional lay members were appointed by the government, it could undermine the watchdog’s professional autonomy. Choi also said that increasing the number of doctors with overseas qualifications allowed to practice in Hong Kong might not solve the underlying issues. READ MORE: Hong Kong medical body blasted by court for slow handling of child's amputated finger complaint He said the Hospital Authority could not even taken on all local medical graduates, which will increase to 450 per year. He said the number was higher than the 345 vacant positions in the authority. “Unless the Housing Authority expands its structure, the figures will suffice,” he said. Choi also said passing rates varied from year to year, with the high end reaching 49 per cent in 2007 and 42 per cent last year. The low end recently was this year when only 19.3 per cent passed. He said one reason for this year’s low passing rate was that many candidates failed in a multiple-choice paper that tested their knowledge of general practice.