KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is urging the government to increase the number of permanent posts for doctors and to treat contract doctors the same way as it treats permanent doctors by giving them similar pay.
MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said despite the extensive planning and discussions by the Health Ministry and the Medical Development Unit, there had been little support from those who control the release of the positions, namely the Public Service Department and the Finance Ministry.
"The doctors are working their hearts out.
"With our existing workforce, we are already faced with increasing waiting times, burnout and physician fatigue.
"With no increase in staffing to help alleviate the current situation, we'd see delay in the implementation of universal healthcare, as well as stagnation in government healthcare goals," he said in a press conference on Wednesday (Nov 13).
Dr Ganabaskaran said this in response to a press conference on Nov 8 by the Health Minister, who said the ministry and the Health Advisory Council were looking at coming up with long-term measures to resolve the problem.
From January to November, 6,307 medical graduates were offered contract doctor posts.
Together with several other medical and dental associations, Dr Ganabaskaran urged the government to increase the positions needed on an annual basis in line with the increase in the number of patients seeking treatment because the number of staff hired had stagnated.
Moreover, new hospitals and health clinics were being opened with hardly any increase in job vacancies, he added.
"We estimate that there is a need for 2,000 new positions yearly to meet the need," he said.
MMA, together with MMA's Section Concerning House Officers, Medical Officers and Specialists (Schomos), Malaysian Medics International, the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Dental Association, Section Concerning Dental Officers and Specialists and the Islamic Dental Association of Malaysia have issued a press statement suggesting that contract doctors who showed improved competency and ambitions should be allowed to apply for Federal Training Scholarship (for specialisation).
Schomos chairman Dr Kevin Ng said the government should increase the number of permanent posts or increase the number of years for contract posts so that the doctors would have the opportunity to go for specialisation which required four years of training.
"This would be impossible to complete on a two-year medical officer contract now.
"With four years of experience, we are also worried about their chances of being employed. Many private hospitals want senior doctors," he said.
Dr Ng said not only were contract doctors denied post-graduate study opportunities, they would also face difficulty going into general practice as the sector was also facing many challenges.
He pointed out that contract doctors get RM364 less than those holding permanent posts.
To equalise the pay for an estimate 2,500 doctors a year who do not get permanent posts, it will cost the government RM11mil a year, which is minimal, he said.
He reminded the ministry that the government had assured that contract doctors would not be given lesser terms when it introduced the contract system for house officers and medical officers in December 2016.
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