A sit-in will be held from 2pm to 8pm outside the Legislative Council on Wednesday to protest proposed changes to the Medical Council of Hong Kong. The protest was initiated by the Hong Kong Medical Association.
Paul Au Yiu-kai, a doctor and council member of the association, said on Tuesday that the demonstration was to “demand fairness and freedom, because the the hearing process and the make up [of the hearing committee] are not righteous.” He also said that the selection of arbitrators was not neutral.
Medical student societies of the Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong also responded to the call and asked people to join the protest.
The Medical Council aims to “promote quality in the medical profession in order to protect patients, foster ethical conduct, and develop and maintain high professional standards,” according to its homepage. In particular, it deals with complaints from patients and their families regarding medical treatments.
“The government is deceiving citizens. Simply adding lay members to the council cannot shorten the time it takes to process complaints – doctor representatives must also be added at the same time,” Au said. He said that the proposal “destroys professional independence.”
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association also released a statement expressing “deep regret” regarding the amendment bill on Tuesday.
It said that the association has given many suggestions regarding the principle of maintaining a 1:1 ratio of lay and appointed members versus members from the medical field. It said it was sad that they had not been accepted.
It also said that it “opposed the government using the name of ‘reformation’ to control the Medical Council so that it can pave the way to bring in non-locally trained doctors who are unqualified.”
Projected to pass
The proposal is projected to pass in Wednesday’s council session as it only requires a simple majority and pro-establishment lawmakers are expected to back the bill.
The government proposed in April adding four additional lay members – meaning people from outside the medical profession – to the council. The four would be nominated by sectors which represent patients’ and consumers’ interests before being appointed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Meanwhile, two members who are currently nominated by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine and appointed by the Chief Executive will instead be elected by the 26-member council of the Academy.
The government originally proposed simply adding four lay members but met resistance from medical professionals, who wanted to “maintain balance.”