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April 2015

Dear Fellows and colleagues,

Spring is finally in the air and we look forward to warmer temperature. Hopefully the Influenza virus will also go away! I would like to wish you all a belated happy and peaceful year of the Goat!

Medical education and training are of priority for healthcare systems to improve quality of patient care. The Academy needs to focus more on medical education and training to fulfill our mission of assuring quality care provided by specialists in the many different disciplines. I am very pleased to report to you that the Academy organised its first medical education conference, entitled “Medical and Healthcare Education through Continuum” in February. The Conference, through its plenary sessions and workshops led by local and overseas medical leaders, in particular a team from the University of Edinburgh, highlighted areas in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education that are of particular importance for academic institutions and healthcare systems. These included inter-professional education, curriculum development, training via simulation and medical professionalism. I am sure that the participants found the Conference to be a valuable and enjoyable learning experience. We hope to make this Conference an annual event, so please watch out for the announcement of the next one!

The Academy responded and commented on the Government’s 2015 Policy Address and its Budget which addressed and proposed initiatives focusing on improving public healthcare services in Hong Kong. We submitted comments incorporating views of various colleges and in particular we emphasised the importance of funding medical training (please see full text of our submissions on pages 3-5).

The Academy also advocates that more emphasis and resources should be placed on the prevention and control of chronic and non-communicable diseases, as well as health promotion when planning healthcare policies. We have urged the Government to earmark additional funding to enable organisations and institutions, such as the Hospital Authority, the universities, and the Department of Health to provide wider training opportunities for specialists in different disciplines as well as allied healthcare workers in order to match the increasing demand for training of an enlarging healthcare workforce to meet the needs of a rapidly ageing population with the longest life expectancy in the world.

Indeed, to train sufficient health manpower to deliver primary and hospital-based care has long been a challenge in Hong Kong. Apart from the introduction of “first-hire-then-train” scheme for younger generation, a more structured training and a meaningful career path should be made available to maintain interest and job satisfaction.

In the rapid advancement of medicine, it is important for medical specialists to remain up to date with the latest knowledge and developments. Specialty Colleges of the Academy train and accredit medical and dental specialists, and are committed to maintain standards of clinical practice that ensure patient safety. We require our Fellows to undergo continuing medical education and continuous professional development. Yet there is always the question of “who can do what and where”? We are in the process of establishing a credentialling system, which will be a step towards enabling only those properly trained and accredited medical practitioners to perform potentially high-risk procedures in appropriate settings.

Besides consulting the medical profession on the Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities in Hong Kong, the Government of HKSAR is planning to introduce legislation proposal on the regulation of standards for performing procedures in ambulatory settings. The Academy’s Past President Dr Raymond Liang has been appointed to chair a Project Steering Committee (PSC) on Standards for Ambulatory Facilities recently set up by the Department of Health. The Academy and experts from constituent Colleges will be playing a significant role in the PSC, as well as in its task forces, to steer the development and promulgation of standards for ambulatory facilities providing high-risk medical procedures. The PSC will make recommendations on the procedure-specific and core standards for legislative review and steer the conduct of impact assessment survey for regulatory control of ambulatory facilities. We will provide updates as we progress.

I attended a General Medical Council Conference recently in London with the theme of “Creating a culture of openness, safety and compassion”. There were a lot of discussion around compassionate regulation. Besides assuring patient safety, the feelings of providers and dictating circumstances also need to be taken into consideration during medical enquiries. ‘Whistle blowing’ and peer complaints were some interesting subjects that provoked lively discussion. Training of general practitioners was another topic discussed with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) which agree to extend the duration of training to 4 years from the present 3-year requirement before an individual doctor could sit for the Membership of RCGP examination.

We need and appreciate your continuous support of the Academy. Indeed the Academy could not progress or provide many our services without your contributions.

Dr Donald Li

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