Two-year extension for contract doctors will allow Health Ministry to look at other ways to reward them, says sec-gen

PETALING JAYA: The offer to allow contract medical officers to extend their term for another two years upon completion of mandatory service will allow the Health Ministry some time to come up with better employment terms and benefits for them.

Health secretary-general Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah said the ministry was thankful to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who agreed that all medical officers would be offered the deal.

"This is an interim step as the ministry uses the two years to look at other ways to offer a more permanent position and benefits for them and it will also allow us to re-evaluate and upgrade the Medical Act 1971," he said in a press conference on Friday (July 23).

Citing ministry data, Mohd Shafiq said from 2014 to 2020, the number of contract medical professionals who have quit the public service hovered around 900.

He said the ministry is also concerned with the high numbers.

However, he believes that most medical officers remain loyal to the public service especially when their skills are needed to handle the pandemic.

He also said medical officers left the service for various reasons.

Meanwhile, Selangor Health director Datuk Dr Sha'ari Ngadiman said 163 doctors have quit the public service since January.

"Some of them might prefer to work at vaccination centres where they find the emolument to be better while others resigned to inherit clinics their parents might have already set up," he said.

He added some had a change of heart and switched their careers to become photographers or run computer shops.

"I have met those who were no longer interested to practise medicine," he said.

On Friday, Muhyiddin said Cabinet agreed to extend the contracts for a maximum of four years to medical officers and dental officers who have been accepted for specialist studies in their first two years of contract service.

This was to ensure there is continuity in service and preparation for specialist studies.

The offer comes amid protests from junior contract doctors who said the current contract system in the civil service was unfair.
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