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Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 2021

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Over the years, Hong Kong has been facing a serious shortage of doctors. This could be fully reflected by its per capita doctor ratio, which lags behind other advanced economies. Currently, Hong Kong has a ratio of two doctors per 1 000 population, far below the ratio in Singapore (2.5), Japan (2.5), the United States (2.6), the United Kingdom (3.0) and Australia (3.8).

According to the “Healthcare Manpower Projection 2020” with base year at 2017 conducted by FHB, there will be a continuous shortage of doctors into the long term in the light of the projection of healthcare needs with regard to demographic changes. The projected shortfall of doctors in 2030 and 2040 will be 1 610 and 1 949 respectively.

The shortage of doctors is particularly evident in the public healthcare sector. According to the “Healthcare Manpower Projection 2020”, there was a shortfall of 660 and 49 specialists and specialists-to-be in the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health respectively in 2020. The projected manpower shortage of the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health will reach 800 and 51 as well as 960 and 51 in 2030 and 2040 respectively.

Currently, the long waiting time of specialty services in the public sector could be mainly attributed to the shortage of doctors. Given the lead time required for training local doctors and the practical constraints in enhancing the training capacity of the two medical schools, the Government cannot solely rely on increasing the number of local training places to address the manpower problem. In fact, non-locally trained doctors were once an important source of doctor supply in Hong Kong when medical qualifications of recognized Commonwealth countries were recognized by the Medical Council of Hong Kong for registration before September 1996.

The Government sees an imminent case to create a new pathway for qualified non-locally trained doctors to obtain full registration in Hong Kong as an alternative to the current pathway of passing the Licensing Examination, subject to certain criteria being met.

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11 Aug 2021