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  Tripartite Platform on Amendments to the Medical Registration Ordinance holds fourth meeting
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The Tripartite Platform on Amendments to the Medical Registration Ordinance held its fourth meeting today (March 7) to discuss proposals for improving the composition of the Medical Council of Hong Kong.

"The mission of the Medical Council is to protect public interest. With 28 members, the Council consists of 24 doctors and four lay members who represent about 14 per cent of the total membership. There are public concerns over the insufficient lay participation in the Council. Considering that the composition of the Council should reflect its mission, there are calls for increasing the number of lay members to enhance the credibility and accountability of the Council," a spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said.

The discussion proposals of the Tripartite Platform are based on the original proposals of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2016 (the 2016 Bill) and the subsequent Committee Stage Amendments proposed by the Government. The views and concerns of the community, Legislative Council and members of the Tripartite Platform on the composition of the Medical Council have also been taken into consideration. The proposals were drawn up on the basis of the following key principles:

(1) Protecting public interest as the overarching objective;
(2) Upholding professional autonomy;
(3) Ensuring independence of the operation of Medical Council; and
(4) Maintaining public trust in the Medical Council.

On increasing lay participation in the Medical Council and the relevant composition, the community at large supported increasing lay members while the majority of doctors did not oppose it during the deliberation of the 2016 Bill in the Legislative Council. Furthermore, there was a general consensus that patient organisations and the Consumer Council should be well represented in the Council, and additional lay members should be elected to the Council as far as possible with clearer election procedures.

The proposals for discussion are as follows:

* Increasing the number of lay members in the Medical Council from four to eight, with the proportion of lay members increased from about 14 per cent to 25 per cent.
* Setting out that among the four additional lay members, three of them will be elected by patient organisations and one will be nominated by the Consumer Council. Appointment by the Chief Executive is not required. The Medical Council shall be empowered to recognise patient organisations according to the criteria prescribed in the subsidiary legislation and conduct the relevant election. The election procedures of patient organisations shall be prescribed in the subsidiary legislation.

Fourteen of the current 24 doctor members of the Council are elected. Among them, seven members are elected by the Council members of the Hong Kong Medical Association while the other seven are elected by registered doctors. The remaining 10 doctor members are appointed members nominated by relevant organisations (i.e. the Department of Health, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hospital Authority and the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine).

Some medical organisations expressed the view that the number of elected members and appointed members of the Medical Council should be equal when the 2016 Bill was under the scrutiny of the Legislative Council. They recently further proposed that elected doctor members should account for half of the membership. On the other hand, some patient groups opined that the number of doctor members, appointed or elected, should not be further increased.

The proposal for discussion is as follows:

* The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (HKAM) is a statutory body responsible for medical specialist training and granting of specialist qualifications. Having regard to the principle of professional and academic autonomy and the structure of HKAM, the two appointed members nominated by the HKAM should be elected in accordance with its rules and regulations. Appointment by the Chief Executive is not required. This will enable an increase in the number of elected members while maintaining half of the Council membership being elected as doctor members after the addition of four lay members.

Under the proposals for discussion, doctor members will remain the majority (75 per cent) in the Medical Council while the proportion of lay members will be increased to 25 per cent. Half of the members will be elected doctor members. About two-thirds of the members will be elected members (including one member to be nominated by the Consumer Council whose appointment by the Government is not required) while only about one-third will be appointed members.

The Government will make reference to the deliberations and views of the Tripartite Platform and 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 fourth 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, March 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:17
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