Legislation set to take full effect in 2021 is creating a new regulatory regime for private healthcare premises in Hong Kong, bringing with it the new role of chief medical executive.
The legislation, the Private Healthcare Facilities Ordinance of 2018, means that all private hospitals, day procedure centres, clinics and health services establishments must be licensed with the Department of Health or have a letter of exemption.
A requirement of this licensing is to have an appointed chief medical executive, or CME, who is accountable for the medical management of the facility. Licensing under the new regime will take full effect on 1 January 2021.
What is the role of CME?
The CME is in charge of the day-to-day administration of the facility and is responsible for the implementation of rules, policies and procedures concerning healthcare services provided in the facility.
The CME also ensures that policies and procedures are consistent with the Code of Professional Conduct of the Medical Council or the Code of Professional Discipline for the Guidance of Dental Practitioners in Hong Kong of the Dental Council.
The CME must also ensure that every healthcare professional working in the facility has a valid practising certificate, and that every person giving healthcare services in the facility has the requisite qualifications, training and experience relevant to the healthcare services that the person provides.
Who can be a CME?
The CME of a private healthcare facility must:
• possess the qualifications and experience necessary for administering a facility of that type
• be physically and mentally fit to administer a facility of that type
• be a person of integrity and good character.
The CME must be a registered medical practitioner, or dentist for a dental clinic, who has been registered for not less than six years in Hong Kong for day procedure centres and not less than four years for clinics.
There are other requirements and responsibilities for CMEs under the new regulations, and we encourage members to visit the Department of Health’s Office for Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities website for all the details.
Do I need additional indemnity provision for my CME work?
We have had a number of enquiries from members asking if they can purchase professional indemnity for their role as a CME. Having reviewed the terms of the Private Healthcare Facilities Ordinance, the sanctions for non-compliance could potentially be:
• Fines: As these are punitive measures, these are outside our standard scope of membership and are usually uninsurable.
• Referral to the regulator: There is the potential for a member to be referred to the regulator for a breach of duty as a CME. This is something you would be able to seek assistance with under the standard terms of your MPS membership.
• Vicarious liability: We do not believe the CME could be found vicariously liable for clinical negligence within the practice. This would still fall to the individual clinicians involved and/or the employer.