Updates on the Coroner Inquest in October 2021
A number of College fellows have expressed their concerns on the appropriateness of an expert witness’ comment outside his expertize specialty at the coroner inquest in October 2021 which were covered by the media. A note was written to the President of Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (HKAM) on 1st November 2021 to draw the attention of HKAM and other Colleges regarding the code of conduct of expert witnesses. HKAM’s Honorary Legal Advisor was in the view that HKAM did not have the mandate to rule on the matter or conduct any investigation / hearing concerning the expert witness in question.
Hence, to prevent recurrence of the incident and to uphold the professionalism of medical expert witnesses, the HKAM Council decided to enhance education and training for specialists acting as an expert witness; and will implement a number of measures:
1. Publish article on “Expert Witness” in the Hong Kong Medical Journal
2. Publish in HKAM’s newsletter covering the ethical conducts expected of expert witness in general.
3. Training course for expert witness may be organized
4. Formulate guideline on the code of conduct for expert witness which will be discussed at the coming meeting of HKAM’s Professionalism and Ethics Committee.
Updates on Examinations
At the Board of Examinations meeting in December 2021, it was decided to resume face-to-face examinations in 2022. At the initial stage of the outbreak in mid January, a few contingency plans have been drafted aiming to ensure the examinations can take place in early March, as conduction of the examinations for our trainees is one of the College’s most important priorities. However, with surge of confirmed cases after the Chinese New Year, it is obvious that the situation is beyond our control. On 14th February 2022, a joint meeting between Board of Examinations and College Council decided to postpone the 1st sitting of intermediate, and final fellowship examinations.
The College understands that postponing examinations will create enormous difficulties for our trainees and training centres, especially those which are in severe shortage of workforce. After carrying out a thorough risk analysis on the delivery options, exhausting all possible options to conduct the examinations as original planned, and having a thorough discussion with the members of Board of Examinations and Council, we have to make such a difficult decision to postpone the examinations. We do not take the postponement of examinations lightly and therefore have considered all options before making this decision.
Board of Examinations and Board of Education have been working hard to tackle various issues involved with training and examinations under the current critical situation. After having multiple meetings within two weeks, we acknowledge that progression / completion of trainees’ training would be delayed if there is further postponement of examinations. The impact of this on training centres would also be significant. Hence, the 1st sitting of the intermediate and final examinations would be conducted in an online format and completed before end of June 2022 with consideration of trainees’ progression/completion of training. As it has become quite apparent by now, the degree of uncertainty makes it nearly impossible to accurately predict what the picture will be like over the next few months for our candidates and examiners. The principal reason for conducting the examination in an online format is that due to the unpredictable nature of the current situation, all other formats for conducting the examinations in a safe and timely manner have been rendered unfeasible. The integrity of the examination, nevertheless, is of utmost importance, and extra measures will be in place to carry out the online examination in a fair and secure manner.
We hope that this update provides certainty in what has been an uncertain and ever-changing landscape. We would also like to thank all COSs, SOTs, examination coordinators, examiners, trainers, trainees for their support and patience in what has been challenging time for everyone.
Council, Board of Examinations, Board of Education
The Hong Kong College of Anaesthesiologists
Staff deployment to medical/ ICU
With the latest outbreak of COVID, the public healthcare system has been overwhelmed. Board of Education understand that quite a number of anaethesia trainees have been or will be deployed during this challenging period of COVID pandemic. The Board of Education would exercise flexibility and make corresponding adjustments to training and rotations (if COVID-related), that the period will be regarded as recognised training. The following arrangements will be made.
- For anaesthesia trainees
- The deployment period to any service units other than anaesthesia can be recognised under non-anaesthesia (for old curriculum), elective or ICU (if the deployment unit is an HKCA recognised training unit for ICU).
- The maximum duration of recognised deployment is limited to 18 months electives (new curriculum), or 15 months electives and 3 months non-anaesthesia (old curriculum), 6 months ICU.
- If the deployment is less than 3 months, this can be accepted under exceptional circumstances. The SOT has to remark in the e-portfolio (vocational training experience) that the mentioned period of training is related to COVID.
2. For trainees who have already fulfilled the elective / non-anaesthesia / ICU category of training,
- Deployment to service units other than anaesthesia can be counted as “clinical anaesthesia” for a maximum of 4 weeks, taking into account HKAM’s recommendation of allowing recognition of deployment period as part of training experience.
3. For ICM trainees, since there is no strict requirement of 3 months minimum on the duration of rotation, they can essentially go anywhere for any duration of time.
4. For ICM trainees having anaesthesia rotation but got deployed back to ICU/Medical, it would be up to the Training Officer of the Board of ICM to decide on whether a corresponding extension in duration of anaesthesia training is required to make up the anaesthesia rotation. If the deployment is significantly long enough that the anaesthesia training is affected, the deployment should be counted as elective, and a corresponding extension in anaesthesia training time is required.
5. For specific deployment situations where the trainee or SOT would like to seek exemption from the above principles, it will be discussed among the Board and the Council for the final decision.
Regarding pain module training,
- The deployment period to any service units during pain module training will be taken into consideration. An extension of pain module duration corresponding to the duration of deployment will be allowed to fulfil the module requirement of “completing 48 sessions within 6 months”. The maximum duration of such an extension is limited to 4 weeks
- No change in recognition of pain module into pain fellowship training time. Trainees must complete 48 sessions in 4 months in order for the period to be recognised by subsequent pain fellowship training
- The SOT has to inform the Board of Education at email@example.com of the name of the trainees for administrative purposes.
The Board of Education and Council of HKCA fully supports the tremendous efforts and resilience of our frontline staff at this challenging period. At the same time, we also care about your well-being and welfare. If you encounter any difficulties, please don’t hesitate to approach our Welfare Workgroup at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
WBA Train-the-trainers (TTT) Workshop
The WBA Train-the-trainers Workshop scheduled for 26th March 2022 has been postponed until further notice. We are currently unable to predict the feasibility of running an on-line live simulation workshop. We may be facing the summit of the Covid-19 outbreak at the end of March and HA departments may need extra workforce to fight the war. Holding off the workshop may be a better option for both instructors and participants.
WBA Workshop in ICM
Board of Intensive Care Medicine and Board of Critical Care Medicine intend to organise five WBA workshops in 2022. The first one was conducted on 22nd January 2022 via Zoom.
The next four workshops will be conducted on 24-25 March, 21-22 June, 14-15 September, and 19-20 December 2022. However, in view of the surge of COVID-19 cases and the severe shortage of workforce in public hospitals, the workshop scheduled in March has been postponed until further notice.
HKAM Peer Support Scheme
The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (Academy) has recently launched the Peer Support Scheme (PSS), which is a voluntary programme for Academy Fellows and specialist trainees to offer or find support through informal communication that may be beneficial to mental well-being.
Academy Fellows are free to enrol as Peer Supporters. Peer Supporters are individuals who are keen to contribute to the well-being of peers in the profession, and to help foster a caring and supportive culture within the work environment. They are dedicated to show support to the peers of the same or different specialties through active listening and sharing experience in their spare time. The informal connection will not lead to any doctor-patient relationships and would not have any financial obligations.
All Peer Supporters will be provided with dedicated training by the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists. They will be equipped with relevant skills and qualities, allowing them to be active listeners and offer informal advice when needed to peers who wish to talk to someone or express grievances about their problems in the work or personal life. All conversations will be kept strictly confidential.
The period for enrolment as a Peer Supporter is one year, renewable annually on a voluntary basis.
For enquiries, please email the Academy Secretariat at PSS@hkam.org.hk