Outside doctors could cut queues for SEN children: CE

Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday said one reason the government brought in new legislation, that allows eligible non-locally trained doctors to practise here, is that it wanted to slash the long waiting times faced by special needs children.

The Department of Health’s Child Care Assessment Service provides assessment and follow up services for special needs children. But Lam says the unit has long suffered from a manpower shortage, with 40 percent of its posts still vacant.

Speaking at an academic medical conference, Lam said she hoped this example would convince those who were sceptical about the government’s move to attract overseas doctors.

“If we could bring in 10 paediatricians tomorrow, our kids will not have to wait so long for their child assessment service. And we’ll be able to immediately match the on-site pre-school rehabilitation services or other forms of pre-school rehab services for these kids. And you know better than I do what early intervention means in medical and health services,” Lam said.

Last week, Legco passed a bill to allow non-locally trained doctors to fully practise in Hong Kong without taking a local licensing exam, despite opposition from the medical sector.

Lam also said the government would introduce two new pieces of legislation to impose harsher punishments on those posing a threat to children’s health.

She said the proposed changes include making it mandatory for certain people to report suspected cases of child abuse to the authorities, as well as bringing in new offences against those who fail to protect children from dying or suffering from serious harm.