A nurse (center) walks through a temporary center for patients set up outside the Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong on Feb 16, 2022, as the city fought its worst COVID-19 wave to date. (PETER PARKS / AFP)

HONG KONG – The Director of Health has announced the third batch of medical qualifications recognized by a registration committee formed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.

Under the Medical Registration Ordinance, the third batch of recognized medical qualifications, issued on Wednesday, covers 25 qualifications from institutions in the Chinese mainland, India, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

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The third batch list will be gazetted and take effect on Friday. It will be submitted to the LegCo for negative vetting on Jan 11, 2023, said the government

Together with the first two batches announced in April and June this year, the Special Registration Committee (SRC) has so far recommended total 75 medical qualifications for recognition. 

The third batch list will be gazetted on Friday and take effect the same day, the government said in a statement. 

The list will be submitted to the Legislative Council for negative vetting on Jan 11, 2023, it added. 

Welcoming the announcement of the new batch of recognized medical qualifications, the Hospital Authority said it fully supports the government's policy on attracting and recruiting more qualified non-locally trained doctors to practice in Hong Kong.

“The Hospital Authority will launch an overseas recruitment exercise by next year by visiting relevant medical schools of universities and medical associations, briefing them with the details of our recruitment scheme as well as stepping up our publicity campaigns so as to attract more non-locally trained medical graduates and medical practitioners to return and serve in Hong Kong,” said an HA spokesperson in a statement.

The Authority has set up various online platforms to handle related enquires and applications from non-locally trained doctors by a dedicated team, added the spokesperson.

Thanking the SRC for their work in conducting assessments of non-local medical programs in the past few months, Secretary for Health Professor Lo Chung-mau said: “The SRC will continue to discharge its statutory duties and take forward the task of determining the full list of recognized medical qualifications.”

To ease a medical staff shortage, Hong Kong's legislature passed a law on Oct 21 last year that allows overseas-trained doctors to practice in the city without taking a local licensing exam. The next month, the SRC was established under the Medical Council in accordance with the amended ordinance to determine the list of recognized medical qualifications after reviewing programs offered by non-local medical schools with quality comparable to those provided by the two medical schools in the city. Prof Grace Tang heads the SRC.

After the ordinance came into effect, non-locally trained doctors possessing recognized medical qualifications may apply for special registration to practice in public healthcare institutions in Hong Kong. After serving for a certain period, obtaining recognized specialist qualifications, and passing the assessment, they will be granted full registration to practice in the city.

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Besides prioritizing the recruitment of suitable medical graduates from local universities, the Hospital Authority said it will recruit more qualified non-locally trained doctors to join the public healthcare sector in order to tackle the rising service demand.

“The HA will also dovetail and support the corresponding needs for specialist training and participate in a new platform established by the Health Bureau for the deliberation on specialist training matters with the Department of Health and the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine,” it added.