PETALING JAYA: Engagement sessions with the government regarding the long-standing contract doctor issue have been fruitful, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Dr Vijay Ganasan, who is the chairman of MMA’s Section Concerning House Officers and Medical Officers (SCHOMOS), however said that solutions for the issue were still dependent on the decision of the entire Cabinet.
Recently, the MMA has met with the Finance Ministry and the Health Ministry on the matter.
“We have been informed that the issue will be brought up in the next Cabinet meeting, and we are waiting for an announcement to be made quite soon.
“We hope for a resolution as soon as possible. We would also urge the government to table a long-term solution for this issue during Parliament,” he said during a virtual press conference on Monday (July 12).
Dr Vijay said while it may not be feasible to automatically grant contract doctors permanent positions, a proper set of criteria should be drawn up so that contract doctors would be able to consider how to progress in their career.
He also said the Code Black campaign, which was initiated by SCHOMOS, received a warm reception, not just among medical practitioners but among members of the public as well.
He stressed however that the Code Black campaign does not condone a separate movement which calls for a strike by contract healthcare workers on July 26.
The press conference came at the culmination of the Code Black campaign on July 12, and a joint statement was made by 11 health associations to call for Malaysia’s contract doctor system to be re-examined.
“Five years have passed since the first batch of contract healthcare staff members were hired in December 2016.
“We have yet to see a significant improvement in their available career prospects, access to specialisation pathways and job security,” they said.
They urged the government to consider their proposals to resolve the matter, which include providing clear postgraduate pathways to specialisation for contract healthcare workers and to publish a detailed ranking system for them to be appointed to permanent positions.
“We also urge the government to provide equal and fair treatment for contract and permanent staff, whereby benefits and salary should be the same for similar jobs done,” they said.
They cautioned that the issue may lead to brain drain in the country’s public healthcare sector if left unresolved.
“A significant portion of our workforce in the healthcare sector is unable to further their education through no fault of their own.
“Being hired on contract terms since December 2016, the odds are stacked against our junior healthcare staff to acquire specialist degrees and post-basic training.
“They are leaving for greener pastures elsewhere as a result,” said the associations.
On July 6, the Health Ministry said that existing junior doctors will be offered a one-year contract on a one-off basis as medical officers.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba had also said the issue of contract medical officers not being absorbed into permanent posts will be brought to a Cabinet meeting.
He added that as of May 31, there were 35,216 contract appointments for medical officers, dental officers, and pharmacists.