Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced the government’s revised plans for amending the Medical Registration Ordinance, following controversy over the reform of the Medical Council. She said she hoped to submit it for a second reading at the Legislative Council as soon as possible.

The government’s original plan involved adding four lay members – meaning individuals outside of the medical profession – to the council. The move prompted a sit-in by doctors and medical students outside the Legislative Council last year.

Carrie Lam on Tuesday. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Some members of the public were concerned that the addition of four non-doctor members may allow the government to take control more easily. Ultimately, the bill failed to complete its third reading before the end of the last Legislative Council session due to continuous filibustering efforts, mostly by former medical sector lawmaker Leung Ka-lau.

Ratio maintained

On Tuesday, Lam said that one of the aims of the proposed amendment was “to expand the composition of the Medical Council, to bring in more lay members to reflect the views of society.”

“[I]n the last two years, it has not been very successful, mainly because some of the doctors’ associations are not happy about the changes in the composition and they strongly requested that we should try to find a way that would maintain the current so-called ratio of the elected vs appointed on a one-to-one basis,” Lam said.

Lam said that they have reached a consensus and the proposal involved expanding the number of members from 28 to 32. The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine’s seats on the council will increase from two to four, with two appointed and two elected via the Academy.

The Medical Council of Hong Kong. File

Meanwhile, the government’s appointed seats held by the Hospital Authority and Department of Health will reduced from a total of four to two. Hence, the ratio will be kept at 1:1.

Lam said she was confident that the revised proposal will meet the requests of various sectors.

She added that the amendment also aimed at speeding up the process for addressing complaints about doctors addressed to the Medical Council, and to relieve the workload pressure by making it easier for the Hospital Authority to engage overseas trained doctors.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.