Medical graduates from Fudan University can now apply to practise in Hong Kong, after the school became the first institution in mainland China to have its qualifications recognised by the city under a special registration programme.
The top Shanghai medical school was included on Wednesday when Hong Kong released a list of 23 non-local institutions whose qualifications would be accepted under the special scheme.
The scheme allows eligible doctors to eventually attain full registration status in the city without the need for a local licensing exam, as long as they fulfil several criteria. It was launched in a bid to ease Hong Kong’s chronic manpower shortage in the public healthcare sector, and this is the second batch of institutions to be announced.
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In Fudan’s case, graduates of its six-year medical programme will be eligible to apply.
Other schools from the latest list included the University of Sydney in Australia, the University of Bristol in Britain and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
The list is set to be gazetted on Friday before taking effect the same day. It will then be submitted to the Legislative Council on June 15 for “negative vetting”, a process under which the government implements legislation and Legco can amend it later.
A total of 50 non-local schools are now recognised for the special registration scheme, including the first list of 27 medical qualifications that was announced in late April.
In a statement, the government said: “The Special Registration Committee is pressing ahead with the assessment of other non-local medical programmes, and medical qualifications that fulfil the stipulated criteria will not be excluded during the process.
“The [committee] aims to submit the remaining medical qualifications to be recognised in batches as soon as possible.”
The government had previously said the list of recognised schools was eventually likely to consist of about 100 institutions.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said she was confident the committee would be able to finalise the list within this year.
The committee was first established in November last year to determine the list of recognised medical qualifications, after the scheme was introduced with the amendment of the Medical Registration Ordinance in October. It provided a new pathway for non-locally trained doctors to practise in Hong Kong.
They must be graduates with medical qualifications that are recognised on the list, already possess medical registration in the place where they graduated, have worked full-time in Hong Kong’s public sector for at least five years after obtaining a specialist qualification, and are considered to have served “satisfactorily and competently” during the five-year period.
Hong Kong permanent residents who are fresh graduates from the recognised medical programmes but have not yet undergone internship in the countries where they trained will also be eligible to take the licensing exam and undergo internship in the city.
Previously, non-locally trained doctors could only take the licensing exam if they had already received an internship elsewhere.
On Fudan’s inclusion, medical and health services sector lawmaker Dr David Lam Tzit-yuen said the Shanghai institution had a long history and “fairly good and balanced” reputation for all its medical disciplines, including in surgery.
While he would not speculate why other top mainland universities such as Peking and Tsinghua were not included, Lam said he expected to see more make the list in the next batch.
Lam also dismissed concerns from some local practitioners that mainland doctors would face a language barrier in Hong Kong, saying Fudan graduates would have good command of English and be well-versed in the Chinese, English or Latin names of medical terms and drugs in their studies.
Lam, a surgeon by profession, also said the dominance of universities from the Anglosphere, such as Britain and the United States, in both the initial and the latest list reflected the destinations of studies many Hongkongers have traditionally chosen.
“The scheme is designed to attract Hong Kong’s overseas students. There’s no point putting a top university in Germany which may only have three Hongkongers studying there in the past decade,” he said.
Medical Association president Dr Gabriel Choi Kin also agreed with the addition of Fudan on the list.
“I think the university was selected as its programme fits the structure of the programmes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, which also require six years of studies,” he said.
He added that he also had a few other mainland universities in mind for the next batch of recognised qualifications.
Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, who chaired the bills committee examining the relevant amendments to the ordinance, said she welcomed the new batch, but there was still a lack of mainland institutions.
“I do not understand the criteria [for selecting institutions]. Why is there only Fudan University? There are other renowned medical schools on the mainland. Why are they not added to the list?” she said.
Quat said the authorities should include more universities in one go and release the list as early as possible to relieve the shortage of doctors in the city.
Additional reporting by Victor Ting and Sammy Heung
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