Hong Kong Doctors Union is the one and only trade Union specially designed for all doctors in Hong Kong whether working as employee or self-employed. Our primary objectives have changed from the basic task of supervising allocation of public housing estate clinics in the very beginning to higher ideals of safeguarding the welfare and rights of doctors. Our transformation from Estate Doctors Association Ltd. into Hong Kong Doctors Union Ltd. in 2000 proclaimed our final evolution into a strong and committed community to serve all doctors in Hong Kong, to cater for their legitimate rights and welfare, their recreation, continuous education and development. To mark the final stage of evolution, Hong Kong Doctors Union adopted its present name officially in 2002.
The policy of allocating medical clinics to Registered Doctors in Low-cost Housing Estates was set up in 1965 by the Medical and Health Department when it was realized that the Hong Kong Government could not cater adequate medical care to the population of these areas. Hitherto, these residents went to the very few clinics or mobile vans run by exempted unregistered doctors. Needless to say, the standard of medical care was low and unsatisfactory.
As it had not been the policy of the Medical and Health Department to set up Government O.P.D. Clinics in these Estates, a pilot scheme of inviting Registered Doctors to practise in these areas was initiated by the Hon. DMHS. When a favorable response was obtained from Members of the Hong Kong Chinese Medical Association, a meeting was convened in September, 1966 at the Hong Kong University Alumni Association. During this meeting, Dr. Gerald Choa, the then Deputy DMHS, took the chair and proposed that a Provisional Committee known as the Low-Cost Clinics Doctors Management Committee should be formed.
This Committee would act as liaison body between its members, the Medical and Health Department, the Resettlement Department, and the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HKHA). It would elect its own code of rules and regulations of clinic allocation. It would promote the welfare of its members and also act as an arbitrating body whenever there was dispute among members.
In 1971, the name was changed to the Low-Cost Clinic Association of Registered Doctors. Four years later, its name was again changed to the Public Housing Estate Clinic Association of Registered Doctors. The Association was incorporated into a limited company under the name of the Estate Doctors Association Ltd.(EDA) on 17.8.1976.
EDA worked in close partnership with HKHA in the allocation and management of medical clinics in the public housing estates, and promoted continuing medical education among members by organizing regular luncheon talks, video cassette sessions and community medical programmes. EDA became more and more active in the following roles which were fully supported by members:-
(1) as a consultative body to the Hong Kong Government on various health issues such as the Harvard Report, Clinical Waste Disposal, Mental Health Ordinance, Chinese Medicine Bill,
(2) as a professional body safeguarding professional autonomy and interests such as annual declaration of no conviction, dangerous drugs guidelines, clauses in the Professional Code & Conduct on managed care.
On 1.1.2000, HKHA changed its policy on letting of medical and dental clinics in public housing estates and all vacant clinics were to be let through open tender to replace the letting by nomination from either EDA or the Estate Dentists Group. Since then EDA ceased all the activities of allocation and management of estate clinics. In order to reflect the role of the Association more clearly, the name of Estate Doctors Association Ltd. was changed to Hong Kong Doctors Union Ltd. (HKDU) on 14.4.2000.
Two years later, in April, 2002, we completed registration with the Registry of Trade Union of HKSAR and now functions as a trade union. We are in a stronger position to achieve our new mission of upgrading on professional image and protecting our doctors' rights.
HKDU is now a highly motivated, conscientious and energetic doctors group. We never stop alerting the authorities to all threats to the freedom of and fairness for the private and single handed doctor while appealing for the overworked public doctor. HKDU appealed many times to different authorities to ensure fairness to all. We reported improper practices by drug stores and unfair canvassing. HKDU openly appealed to the Government and alerted the public to the risk of SARS well ahead of the Government in Spring 2003, calling for wearing of masks and implement other protective measures before the Government. The media has been giving us credit for such a service to the community. Under the Management of HKDU, a Hong Kong Doctors Directory, approved by the Medical Council of Hong Kong is now available to provide the public with free and easy access to doctors' information.
Continuous efforts were made to provide the best practical CME for doctors. HKDU have a long history of organizing formal CME activities and possess immense experience. Besides our regular monthly Sunday afternoon symposia attended by over 400 doctors and luncheon meetings with 100 doctors, we have 24 study groups to provide CME activities for all HK doctors. In particular the Sunday afternoon symposia have been praised for being well presented, informative, practical and useful.
As accredited CME Provider, CME Programme Accreditor and CME Programme Administrator, HKDU came top among ten CME Providers in offering 113 CME hours and capable of providing 24,930 credit points in between 1.10.2001 and 31.3.2002.
Despite our success in CME activities, we never stop trying to be fair. We have sought and will continue to dissuade the authorities to refrain from linking CME with annual relicensing.
Over the years, the following Committees were set up to cater for members' needs: -
a) By-laws Committee
To study and give advice to the Council on setting up by-laws of HKDU.
b) China Affairs Committee
To liaise with the Mainland Officials, arranging health talks and academic exchange tour, exploring the feasibility of building electronic platforms for exchange of medical knowledge with medical professions in the Mainland. To assist members who are interested to move North under the CEPA arrangements resolving hurdles for setting up clinics.
c) Committee on CME
To explore, discuss and develop CME programmes tailored for members such as Sunday afternoon symposia, luncheon seminars, CME study groups, community medical programmes, study courses and on-line CME programmes, and to explore means to promote quality assurance of the medical profession.
d) Committee on Doctors' Rights and Autonomy
To receive complaints concerning the jeopardy of the doctorsí rights and autonomy from doctors, and to suggest ways of handling those complaints to the HKDU Council.
e) Committee on Epidemics
To disseminate information and health alerts to our members during epidemics. To promote the collaboration between public and private health care sectors during epidemics. To assist in ordering protective measures for members and to educate citizens on preventive health care measures during epidemics.
f) Committee on Pubic & Private Interface
To assist in finding means to alleviate the imbalance of Public & Private medical services.
g) Consumer Committee
To negotiate with commercial suppliers of pharmaceutical and consumer products as to obtain best deal for members.
h) Estate Practice Committee
To receive complaints concerning medical practice in public housing estates from doctors, and to suggest ways of handling those complaints to the HKDU Council. To negotiate with Housing Authority in past years and The Link Properties Limited on rate of estate practices since 2005.
i) Finance Committee
To give advice to the Council of the Union in financial matters.
j) Information Technology Committee
The HKDU Homepage (http://www.hkdu.org) has been in operation since 1997. The HKDU CME website (http://cme.hkdu.org) has been continuously upgraded and updated to cater for membersí needs. CME Calendar, Online Quiz, CME links library and lecture recordings of HKDU Sunday Afternoon Symposia have all been put up on Internet for membersí access.
The committee at the same time stay tuned with information technology advances, and to recommend new clinic software and technology to the Council and members when appropriate.
In the year 2007, with the recommendation of iProA, our CME website "HKDU CME Website - http://cme.hkdu.org" won the best eHealth website among all the contestants in China and Hong Kong and had been subsequently nominated for the World Summit Award 2007 Contest.
k) Medical Protection Committee
To search for Medical Protection Plan (MPP) with well coverage for members such as the one that was set up from September 1997 and had been running smoothly for five years. A new Medical Protection Plan provided by Asia Insurance Co. Ltd. was launched in December 2004 and succeeded by QBE Hong Kong and Shanghai Insurance Limited in year 2010. The number of participants kept growing and by now, we have 522 members registered in the plan.
l) Membership Services Committee
To organize variety of recreational activities for members and their families. To negotiate bargain prices for goods and services to members from providers. Local and overseas trips were also organized for members in the past years. Apart from trips, we have two clubs, namely Photo Club and Dancing Club for members to join.
m) Public Affairs Committee
To address issues likely to affect any section of the profession in any manner, be they status, earnings, ease and style of practice, relations with society. To improve communication among members and between them and the Council, in order to consider their opinions fairly and truly.
n) Public Health Education Committee
To promote health education to the general public and at the same time to improve the image of the medical profession and HKDU. HKDU was invited by Metro Broadcast and Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd. to recruit members to be guest speakers in their live Medical Talk Show since October 2004 and November 2005 respectively. HKDU was one of the appointed Committee Members of the Skill Upgrading Scheme Medical & Health Care Profession by the Labor and Wealth Bureau. Since the year 2004 our Union has been supporting the scheme to consider the training need for personnel in medical and healthcare services. HKDU was invited by Otic Charity Foundation as supporting organization to co-organise charity activities in the past two years to raise fund for those financially constrained citizens with speech and hearing impairments.
o) Publication Committee
To oversee all publications to members, such as the monthly circulars, Doctors Union Bulletins & Forum, and HKDU Handbook. All the valuable CME materials of HKDU Sunday Afternoon Symposia delivered by prestigious speakers and specialists were recorded in the CME Bulletin CD.
p) Research Ethics Committee
To approve, review and monitor clinical research, with respect to ethical requirements, upon the submission of requests by HKDU members or doctors at large.
q) Social Activities Committee
To organize annual social events for members e.g. the Annual Dinner Party.
r) Sports Committee
To organize annual sport events for members e.g. the Annual Snooker Tournament, Table-Tennis Tournament, Tennis Tournament, Soccer Tournament and Golf Tournament.
Under the devoted and concerted effort of the council members and with the support and encouragement of the profession and the community, Hong Kong Doctors Union continues to move on and flourish.