Initiation message from the new President, Dr. C.H. Leong, January 2001

Dear Colleagues,

The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine was formally inaugurated in 1993 under statute. Through the wise direction and efforts of the successive Councils and the leadership of our two past Presidents, we have built up an infrastructure in partnership with the different Colleges to vet standards for Fellowship on which specialist registration is based. Yet this is far from enough. As the highest intellectual body of the medical and dental professions, it is the Academy's role to uplift the profession's image by setting benchmarks for excellence in service standards.

It is timely too that we should take stock of the needs of our Fellows and other members of the medical and dental professions, and provide the necessary improvement. It is on these two directions that I aim to navigate the Council to serve the Academy.

I believe that the Academy can move forward by considering a few initial thoughts:-

Improve Partnership with Different Colleges

Whilst the Academy and its different Colleges set the guidelines for proper training, the Hospital Authority (HA) provides the main bulk of trainees and training posts. It stands to reason that the Academy and its Colleges should play a matching role in the HA training programmes. This is to assure that each and every trainee admitted into such programmes be given a structured direction, so as to rotate through and complete the necessary training as determined by the Colleges in the necessary period of time. Steps have been taken to work out further details with the HA top management.

The Academy building is the home of the Colleges. I propose to strengthen secretariat help to those Colleges that need it. Furthermore, new physical space will be identified and made available to Colleges on a rental basis to maximise the cost-effectiveness of the premises.

Better serve our Fellows

Whilst the individual Colleges must have the independent rights to allocate Continuing Medical Education (CME) points for various training courses, the current allocation system is somewhat haphazard. Often it may not even reflect the very high standard that both the Academy and the Colleges demand for re-certification. As we move into our third CME cycle, I believe that the Academy should coordinate with the Colleges to redefine guidelines to award CME points. It is only when CME is well and properly established that the Colleges and Academy can move effectively into Continuous Professional Development.

I believe that the Academy should consider the practicality of a central library for archives. Steps are being taken to coordinate with the HA for linking up with its electronic library. At the same time, we would also look into the possibility of electronic recording of special lectures and seminars of high caliber and educational value, and moving into electronic CME programme in the medium term.

The success of the Academy hinges on Fellows' participation. There are many committees and sub-committees under the Academy to serve different functions. Fellows are urged to join them and participate.

It has been lamented that ordinary Fellows have no right in nominating, let alone electing, the office bearers. I share your concern. The Council will examine the matter, aiming to balance the effectiveness and fairness of a universal suffrage versus an electoral college system. Needless to say, any decision needs further consultation with Fellows and subsequent changes in the regulations.

Taking Non Fellows on board

I believe that the Academy should be responsible for standards of all practising doctors and dentists. On this basis, the Academy has requested to coordinate the CME accreditation of Non Fellows. Similarly, it is my belief that the different Colleges should explore ways and means to provide remedial training programmes for all doctors and dentists who seek to become specialists.

Relationship with Government

Since the Academy is established by statute, we are expected to advise Government on issues relating to standards, training and education of doctors and dentists. It is our duty to play a participatory role in any policy where medical and dental standards play a part.

It is thus not enough for the Academy to be reactive and respond to Government proposals in the shortest possible time, but we must also be proactive and submit ideas and proposals to Government to guide it in areas the profession has the knowhow.

Furthermore, I will negotiate with Government:-

  • For the Academy to take part in all advisory/ executive governmental bodies that deal with health care and health care related issues.
  • For a bigger representation in the Medical Council and a representation in the Dental Council.
  • On specialist trainee and trainer posts that the Academy should have a say on.
In my future series of communication, I will be presenting more details of each proposal for consideration and comment. Your input is vital for the Council and myself to execute our duties.

C. H. Leong