The body that regulates specialist medical qualifications says it's assessing applications from around 10 doctors trained outside Hong Kong who want to practice as specialists here, though it expects many more medics to want to work in the SAR as the Covid-19 pandemic eases.
But the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine says most of those who've applied to work here under a new pathway created by amendments to the Medical Ordinance in 2021 have been knocked back because of the high threshold required. For example, many did not meet the rules for residency in the SAR.
"Many of them unfortunately did not actually meet the basic requirement, so they were not referred to us," Gilberto Leung, the academy's president, said at a media gathering on Friday.
"The scope of eligibility was very small or narrow to begin with, so it's only understandable that the number of people who found themselves eligible was not high. And also there was Covid, so it's only understandable that people were not terribly excited and bending over backwards to do it."
The new pathway for specialists was introduced as the government seeks to alleviate a shortage of manpower in the SAR's medical sector, especially in public hospitals. The academy is tasked with checking whether qualifications obtained overseas are equivalent to those offered by Hong Kong's medical schools.
In October, the government floated the idea of requiring all doctors to work for a specified period of time in public hospitals to ease the manpower crunch.
But Leung noted that non-local doctors seeking to work here already had to work for five years in the public sector, so applications would not be affected.
Asked about the idea of an independent probe into the Covid pandemic, Leung said while it's good to reflect on the past, it also depends on the amount of time and resources that would require.
Several medical experts have called for an inquiry, but Chief Executive John Lee rejected the idea, saying officials had all along been learning from their experiences in the pandemic.