PETALING JAYA: MCA has called for equal benefits for all government contract medical officers (MOs) and transparency in the Health Ministry's selection for permanent service intake.
MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er (pic) said MCA empathised with the predicaments of contract MOs in the government service who are treated as lesser peers.
"For a start, MCA urges the ministry to ensure that MOs on contractual service are given identical benefits as their permanent counterparts.
"Regardless if they are on contract or permanent service, MOs shoulder the same responsibilities and workload in caring for their patients.
"This includes facing the same risks in the line of duty. Unfortunately, they do not enjoy the same work benefits," she said in a statement on Tuesday (June 29).
She added that the ministry must address the career anxieties of contract doctors.
"MCA shares in the anxiety and frustration of contract MOs on the uncertainties they face in the future once their contracts are completed and not extended.
"We urge the ministry to be transparent on the criteria and conditions in the selection process for contract MOs to be given a permanent position," she said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the role of medical frontliners, many of whom are contract MOs.
Chan said MCA also noted the clarification by the Health Ministry that a proposal to prioritise bumiputra medical graduates for permanent positions in the ministry was not its official stand but the opinion of two NGOs, adding that MCA would hold the ministry to their words.
"MCA reiterates that all contract MOs currently in government service must be treated fairly based on merit and professionalism.
"At no time should race or religion be the qualifying or determining factor for the absorption of any contract doctor into permanent service.
"Our medical officers in the civil service have demonstrated a high level of professionalism in treating patients irrespective of background or financial status.
"We cannot allow a situation where contract MOs are not recruited into permanent service, or permanent MOs being sidelined for promotion or further studies due to race or religion," she said.
Chan added that among the reasons for the lack of permanent positions was due to a glut of medical housemen.
"To address the glut in medical graduates, our party proposes that the intakes of students into both public and private universities be realigned to enable a more feasible student-lecturer ratio.
"We further propose the suspension of issuing new licences for private institutes of higher learning to offer medical courses, and instead, maintain the existing number of licensed private medical schools in Malaysia," she said, adding that the fact remained that Malaysia had a high number of medical/dental schools per capita compared to the United Kingdom where the world's oldest medicine institution is housed, or Australia and America.
She said it is quality that we should be striving for, adding that the country was short on medical specialists.
"More emphasis should be placed on the accessibility for government doctors to undertake specialisation skills, instead of having tertiary institutes churning out doctors in quantity only," she said.