Senior doctors from the Greater Bay Area who will be working in public hospitals here under an exchange program can take leading roles in treating patients, Legislative Council member David Lam Tzit-yuen said.
But Lam, who represents the medical and health services sector, is concerned about 70 mainland nurses arriving as well as they will have more frequent contact with patients, so they must familiarize themselves with the local culture.
Nine mainland specialists - five in respiratory medicine and the rest in infectious diseases, cardiology, anesthesiology and radiology - and the nurses will start working in public hospitals next month.
Lam said yesterday that some non-locally trained doctors have already started working through limited registrations, and the arrival of mainland doctors "should not be a big problem" as long as they are qualified.
Many non-local doctors are working at public hospitals as trainees and assistants, but senior specialists from the Greater Bay Area should be allowed to dominate in patients' treatment, he said.
"The computers at our hospitals are in English, and we should not assume mainlanders do not understand English," Lam said. "I believe many mainland medical workers have a better command of English than youngsters here.
"It might take time for mainland doctors to get used to the computer system, but their work will go smoothly after following local guidelines for a while."
Patient rights' advocate Tim Pang Hung-cheong of the Society for Community Organization believes authorities will make sure mainland doctors in the exchange program are professionally qualified.
But he urged authorities to explain their duties to ease public concerns.
Mainland doctors "may need a while to get used to the local medical system," he said, "because some specific medical terms are different between Hong Kong and the mainland. They may need help from local colleagues at the beginning, but they should be fine after one to two months."
Lam and Pang spoke as government pandemic adviser Ivan Hung Fan-ngai said the SAR should set up three infectious disease centers with 300 to 500 negative pressure beds each on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories as a minor rebound of Covid
infections are expected to be detected again in June and July as antibody levels among recovered patients will drop to low levels by then, he said.
But Hung said people do not have to worry about a rebound as most cases will be mild and may not even be detected.
Currently, the Omicron BA.2 and BA.5 substrains are still spreading around the world, but most Hongkongers have already contracted one of them, Hung said, meaning the SAR has high immunity against them.