Doctors voice concern over special registration plan

Doctors have expressed concerns over standards and their autonomy, after the government unveiled plans that would allow non-permanent residents to work as specialists in Hong Kong.

Under the proposal, non-locally trained, non-permanent residents will be able to work in public hospitals under a special registration scheme, which authorities say will ensure the quality of non-locally trained doctors.

But the president of the Public Doctors’ Association, Tony Ling, said he was concerned about the make-up of the government-appointed special registration committee, which will screen candidates.

“Over half of the members are government-appointed, and the chairman is government-appointed. So we have great concern over our autonomy and also, how the special registration committee can safeguard the standards of the doctors,” Ling said.

Speaking to RTHK on Wednesday, he explained that it would be more suitable for the Medical Council to screen doctors, in terms of how the medical curriculum in other places is comparable with that of Hong Kong.

In announcing the plan on Tuesday, health secretary Sophia Chan dismissed concerns that the special registration scheme would lead to lower standards.

She added it is hard to say how attractive it is, while admitting that the workload and environment for doctors have been challenging at public hospitals.

Chan said the required legislative amendments have been submitted to Legco and hopes lawmakers will pass them by the end of their term in October.