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 Tripartite Platform on Amendment of Medical Registration Ordinance holds third meeting
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The Tripartite Platform set up to enhance the operation of the Medical Council of Hong Kong held its third meeting today (January 17). After studying in detail the Council's current operation and making reference to overseas experience, members of the Platform discussed at the meeting the proposed amendments to the Medical Registration Ordinance (MRO) with a view to improving its complaint investigation and disciplinary inquiry mechanism.

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau pointed out that there is a pressing need to amend the MRO. At present, the accumulated number of complaint cases handled by the Council is about 940. It is estimated that it would take about six years on average to complete a complaint case from receipt to disciplinary inquiry. The Government has already provided additional financial resources to the Council to enhance its efficiency of complaint handling as far as practicable through administrative measures. However, as constrained by the MRO, the Council cannot substantially shorten the processing time solely through administrative measures. It is necessary to make legislative amendments to effectively improve the existing mechanism to enable the Council to handle complaints within a reasonable timeframe.

Taking into account the discussions at the tripartite meetings and the views of its members, the proposed amendments are made based on the following key principles:

* Protecting public interest as the overarching objective;
* Establishing a modern mechanism which is separated from but under the auspices of the Council to conduct inquiry by setting up Inquiry Committee;
* Upholding professional autonomy: the Council to decide the number of Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) and Inquiry Committee and appoint members to sit on the Committees, to set qualification requirements of assessors, to appoint chairman and deputy chairman of PIC and chairman of Inquiry Committee, and the majority of PIC and Inquiry Committee members shall be doctors;
* Increasing lay participation;
* Setting up more than one PIC and Inquiry Committee;
* Refining and simplifying the composition of PIC;
* Council members and/or assessors to form PIC and Inquiry Committee; and
* Establishing a large pool of medical and lay assessors to participate in PIC and Inquiry Committee.

In addition, members also agree to increase flexibility in providing legal support to the Council. It is proposed to appoint more than one legal adviser, and to enable the Secretary for Justice to appoint any counsel or solicitor in private practice (other than legal officers of the Department of Justice) to carry out the statutory duties of the Secretary of the Council in inquiries.

Members will continue to discuss other proposed amendments in February to improve the composition of the Council and its complaint investigation and disciplinary inquiry mechanism, aiming to enhance its credibility, transparency and efficiency. The Government will re-introduce the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill into the Legislative Council as soon as possible in the first half of this year.

Information and discussion papers of the third meeting are available at the website of the Food and Health Bureau (www.fhb.gov.hk/en/press_and_publications/otherinfo/161100_tripartite_platform/index.html).

Ends/Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:54
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