This issue of the Newsletter mainly reports on the progress of work of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board (PB) in the past few months, including the arrangements for the 2014 Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination, renewal of practising certificates of registered Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs) and matters relating to Continuing Education in Chinese Medicine (CME) and findings of disciplinary inquiries. In addition, this issue also includes an article reporting on a resolution adopted by the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong (the Council) that the Reasons for Verdict of appeal hearings in respect of Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examinations will be uploaded on the website of the Council, as well as columns on matters that CMPs should take heed of.
Regarding the PB's arrangement in relation to the reduction of CME points required for registered CMPs aged 75 or above, the PB reminds all registered CMPs that such arrangement is applicable to registered CMPs who have reached the age of 75 or above and their current CME cycles started on or after 29 November 2012. For details, please refer to the content of this Newsletter.
On matters concerning disciplinary inquiries, the PB specifically reminds all CMPs to observe, in their practice, regulations on CMPs' professional responsibilities and ethics, standards on prescribing medicines, proper keeping of patients' medical records and the requirement of reporting the commission of any offence punishable by imprisonment to the PB, as stipulated in the Chinese Medicine Ordinance (the Ordinance) and the Codes of Conduct (the Codes)1.
A questionnaire on the Health Manpower Survey conducted by the Department of Health (DH) is also attached to this issue of the Newsletter. The aim of the survey is to collect information on the manpower and employment status of practising CMPs in Hong Kong, and CMPs are called upon to complete the questionnaires and return to the DH direct. Lastly, information on the amendment of the maximum level of "relevant income" for MPF contributions is also included in this issue. CMPs who are self-employed persons or employers are advised to pay attention to such information.
The Mid-Autumn Festival will be coming soon, may I wish you all a happy Mid-Autumn Festival, good health and happiness.
Mr WONG Kit
Chairman of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board
1 The Codes refer to the Code of Professional Conduct for Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners in Hong Kong and the Code of Conduct for Listed Chinese Medicine Practitioners.
Paper 1 and Paper 2 of Part I Written Examination of the 2014 Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination were conducted on 10 June and 12 June respectively. The Clinical Examination (Part II) was conducted from 1 August to 14 August. A total of 341 candidates sat for the Written Examination, 10 candidates were absent from the examination and 244 candidates (71.6% of candidates) passed the examination.
The PB will publish the Candidates' Handbook for the 2015 CMPs Licensing Examination and disseminate in September 2014 the details of taking the 2015 examination. Please take notice of the announcements on the homepage of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong (CMCHK) (http://www.cmchk.org.hk).
It has been 11 years since the first Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination was held in 2003. The PB conducts the examination in accordance with the provisions and procedures stipulated in the Ordinance. According to section 97 of the Ordinance, any person aggrieved by a decision of the PB made upon a review of any application for undertaking the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination and any examination result2 may, within 14 days of the receipt of the notification of the decision, appeal against that decision to the Council in writing stating the reasons relied upon. The relevant procedure on appeal is prescribed in Part VI of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners (Registration) Regulation (www.legislation.gov.hk).
According to the prescribed procedure3, the Council shall announce details such as the date and time of the hearing on its homepage (www.cmchk.org.hk) before it is held and send the Judgement to the appellant by mail within one month after the hearing. The Judgement shall include issues of the hearing, grounds of appeal of the appellant, written representation of the appellant (if any), representation of the PB, submission and defence of the appellant during the hearing (if the appellant attends the hearing), the decision of the PB and justifications upon which the judgement is made, etc.
Following the PB's practice of uploading the Judgement of disciplinary inquiries on the homepage of the Council and considering that the publication of the Judgement can serve as a medium providing reference for public education, promoting professionalism of CMPs and enhancing the credibility and transparency of the appeal mechanism of the Council, the Council has adopted a resolution in its July meeting that the Judgement of appeal hearings in respect of Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examinations will be uploaded on the homepage of the Council for a period of six months, with particulars involving the appellants and other persons as well as content of the examination papers deleted from the Judgement.
The above arrangements will be adopted with effect from the 2014 Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination - appeal hearings of the results of the Written Examination (if any).
2 The relevant provisions on the application for undertaking the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Licensing Examination and on examination results are provided under section 66 and 62 respectively.
3 Section 31 under Part VI of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners (Registration) Regulation.
As at the end of July 2014, there were 6,726 registered CMPs, 64 CMPs with limited registration and 2,703 listed CMPs.
Pursuant to section 76 of the CMO, registered CMPs must obtain valid practising certificates before they are allowed to practise Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. The usual validity period of a practising certificate is three years. Registered CMPs should fulfill the CME requirements prescribed by the PB before they can renew their practising certificates. From March 2014 to July 2014, 171 registered CMPs renewed their practising certificates. All registered CMPs who have their practising certificates renewed should report promptly to their CME Administrators their new CME cycles, required CME points, and the validity period of their practising certificates.
The CMO also stipulates that if registered CMPs practise Chinese medicine without obtaining valid practising certificates for a period exceeding six months since the expiry of their practising certificates, the PB may order removal from the Register the name of those registered CMPs in accordance with section 56(1)(d) of the CMO.
Apart from the CMO, the Codes also stipulate that registered CMPs should be holders of valid practising certificate to practise Chinese medicine. The PB will process violation case seriously in accordance with the procedures stipulated under the CMO.
In August 2012, the PB endorsed the reduction of CME points required for registered CMPs aged 75 or above in each CME cycle from 60 to 30. In this connection, please take note that the effective date of this concessionary measure was 29 November 2012 and this arrangement is only applicable to the CME cycles which commence after a registered CMP has reached the age of 75. In other words, if a registered CMP has reached the age of 75 but his/her current CME cycle shall finish on or before 27 November 2015, he/she is still required to acquire not less than 60 CME points according to the requirements of the PB in order to have his/her practising certificate renewed. The concessionary arrangement shall be applicable to his/her next CME cycle.
Furthermore, if a registered CMP fails to acquire the required CME points in his/her previous cycle, he/she is required to make up the unearned points so as to have his/her practising certificate renewed.
Regarding the arrangement in relation to the reduction of CME points, the following two examples are given by the PB for illustration.
A registered CMP, who is at the age of 79, intends to have his practising certificate renewed. His current practising certificate will expire on 28 November 2014. Since a practising certificate is generally valid for a period of three years, the current CME cycle of this registered CMP should be from 29 November 2011 to 28 November 2014. As the commencement date of this CME cycle (i.e. 29 November 2011) is earlier than the effective date of the arrangement in relation to the reduction of CME points as mentioned above (i.e. 29 November 2012), the registered CMP should still acquire no less than 60 CME points, as required by the PB, before his practising certificate can be renewed. The CME points required for his next CME cycle (i.e. from 29 November 2014 to 28 November 2017), however, will be reduced from 60 to 30.
A registered CMP, who is at the age of 80, intends to have his practising certificate renewed. His current practising certificate will expire on 31 January 2015. Since a practising certificate is generally valid for a period of three years, the current CME cycle of this registered CMP should be from 1 February 2012 to 31 January 2015. As the commencement date of this CME cycle (i.e. 1 February 2012) is earlier than the effective date of the arrangement in relation to the reduction of CME points as mentioned above (i.e. 29 November 2012), the registered CMP should still acquire no less than 60 CME points, as required by the PB, before his practising certificate can be renewed. The CME points required for his next CME cycle (i.e. from 1 February 2015 to 31 January 2018) will, however, be reduced from 60 to 30.
If the registered CMP, for certain reasons, fails to meet the CME requirement within the current CME cycle, and if it is the first time that he has failed to do so, he may, in accordance with the arrangements set out in paragraph 2.4 of the Handbook on System of Continuing Education in Chinese Medicine for Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners, provide the reasons for his failure to meet the CME requirement in written form together with the relevant proofs to the PB before the end of the CME cycle. The PB may issue a warning to the registered CMP who should then, within the new CME cycle (i.e. from 1 February 2015 to 31 January 2018), acquire the CME points required for that new CME cycle as well as making up the unearned points for the previous CME cycle (i.e. from 1 February 2012 to 31 January 2015).
When a practising certificate is renewed, each CMP will be notified of the CME points required for his next CME cycle. For enquiries on matters concerning renewal of practising certificates or the required CME points for the next CME cycle, please contact the Secretariat of the Council at 2121 1888.
The PB has recently received some feedback from registered CMPs that the contact information and addresses of certain CME Administrators were not correct. The PB would like to remind all CME Administrators that they should update, if necessary, their contact information and addresses filed at the PB as soon as possible by completing the "Change of Particulars of Accredited Institution" form and submit to the PB for processing so that an announcement can be made among members of the profession.
The PB held disciplinary inquiries from April 2014 to July 2014 on six registered CMPs and three listed CMPs who were convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment and/or alleged breaching the Codes. Five registered CMPs and three listed CMPs were found guilty after the inquiries. The PB reprimanded and removed the name of two registered CMPs for six months; reprimanded and removed the name of one registered CMP for three months; reprimanded and removed the name of one registered CMP for six months with a suspension of 24 months; reprimanded one registered CMP; removed the name of two listed CMPs and put the decision for one listed CMP on record for future reference.
Summing up the above cases, the PB reminds all CMPs to take note of the following issues.
Practising Certificate of Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners
According to Section 76 of the CMO, registered CMPs shall not practise Chinese medicine unless they are the holders of valid practising certificate. In addition, according to the Codes, registered CMPs must display their practising certificates at a conspicuous place in the clinic.
Standards on Prescribing Medicines
It is stipulated in the Codes that a CMP shall issue prescriptions which conform with professional standards and shall not prescribe excessive or inappropriate medicines. If a CMP prescribes inappropriately with excessive dosages or excessive number of medicines without referring to any therapeutic principles, treatment methods, treatment priorities, or against the principle by which medicines are combined, the treatment of patients would be adversely affected.
In addition, the PB reminds all listed CMPs that, according to section 109 of the CMO, only registered CMPs are permitted to prescribe Chinese herbal medicines specified in Schedule 1. For details of the provision and the Schedule, please visit this website (http://www.legislation.gov.hk/blis/eng/index.html).
Proper Keeping of Medical Records
It is stipulated in the Codes that a CMP should maintain personal medical records for his/her patients. Personal medical records should include the patients' names, gender, consultation dates, contact details, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments applied.
Proper maintenance of the medical records of patients is an important responsibility of CMPs. In case a patient has any concern on the medical treatment given by individual CMP or suffers from any medical incident whereas the CMP concerned is not available to provide details of the patient, the medical record and history of the patient shall be important references for the officers responsible for investigating the incident or other medical professionals or first-aiders to take measures accordingly. The Codes require that a CMP should be able to provide information including his diagnosis of the patient, medicines prescribed and treatment methods. The PB reminds all CMPs again the importance of complying with the above regulations on proper keeping of medical records. If there is any violation, the PB will process the case seriously in accordance with the disciplinary procedures.
Reporting Court Convictions to the PB
According to the Codes, if a CMP has been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment in Hong Kong or elsewhere (irrespective of whether a prison term is imposed or not), he/she must report to the PB immediately, specifying the case number, date of conviction, venue, offence and sentence. If the CMP concerned fails to do so, the PB will take disciplinary actions in accordance with the Codes.
The 2011 Health Manpower Survey conducted by the DH was completed in May 2012. A summary of the findings of the survey is attached to this issue of the Newsletter for information.
A new round of the Health Manpower Survey will be conducted this year. This survey aims at collecting information on the manpower and employment status of healthcare personnel practising in Hong Kong, which will serve as a reference for the Government in health manpower planning. The survey on CMPs has commenced and a questionnaire is enclosed in this issue of the Newsletter for distributing to CMPs. CMPs are advised to return the completed questionnaire to the DH direct. For further information and enquiries, please visit http://www.dh.gov.hk/english/statistics/statistics_hms/statistics_hms.html or contact Health Manpower Unit of the DH at 2961 8566.
In view of the overseas outbreaks of Ebola virus disease, the DH issued a press release on this matter on 8 August 2014, calling upon the public to take heed of the latest developments and preventive measures of the virus disease.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH has also issued letters to doctors and hospitals in the territory to appeal for vigilance. The CHP should be notified of any suspected case for early isolation, diagnosis, control and follow-up. Healthcare workers should also exercise strict infection control measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
All CMP associations and CMPs have also been informed of the above situation by mail. The press release is at the Appendix (Chinese version only) for reference of CMPs. The CHP of the DH will monitor the latest situation closely and CMPs are advised to pay attention to the press releases and updated information issued by the CHP (www.chp.gov.hk).
The Legislative Council has passed the amendment of the maximum level of relevant income4 for MPF mandatory contributions, effective 1 June 2014. Key points about the amendment are as below:
For monthly-paid regular employees, the maximum level of relevant income has been amended from $25,000 to $30,000 monthly. The maximum contributions have been adjusted from $1,250 to $1,500 monthly accordingly.
For self-employed persons, the maximum level of relevant income has been amended from $25,000 to $30,000 monthly and from $300,000 to $360,000 yearly. The maximum contributions will be adjusted from $1,250 to $1,500 monthly or from $15,000 to $18,000 yearly accordingly.
For more details, please call Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority ("MPFA") at 2918 0102 or visit MPFA's website (www.mpfa.org.hk).
4 "Relevant income" refers to any wages, salary, leave pay, fee, commission, bonus, gratuity, perquisite or allowance (including housing allowance and other housing benefit), expressed in monetary terms, paid by an employer to an employee. It does not include any severance or long service payments under the Employment Ordinance.
Listed Chinese Medicine Practitioners
The PB has lost contact with the following listed CMPs based on the information of their telephone numbers and addresses.
The PB appeals to the following CMPs for contacting the Secretariat of the CMCHK (Tel. No.: 2121 1888, Fax No.: 2121 1898) as soon as possible. If other CMPs have contact with them, please notify them of the above.
All CMPs are requested to notify the Secretariat as soon as possible if there are changes in their registered address, correspondence address, practising address, telephone number, fax number and other personal data which have been previously reported to the PB. The form of Change of Personal Particulars of CMPs can be obtained from the Secretariat or downloaded from the CMCHK homepage (http://www.cmchk.org.hk).
Should you have any opinions regarding the content of the Newsletter, please send them to the Secretariat by post, fax or email, indicating "Newsletter of the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board". All published Newsletters have been uploaded to the CMCHK homepage (http://www.cmchk.org.hk). CMPs are cordially invited to visit the above website.
Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong
Room 2201, 22/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East,
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Enquiry telephone: (852) 2121 1888
24-hour enquiry system: (852) 2574 9999
Fax Number: (852) 2121 1898
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Service Hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays