PETALING JAYA: The government gives its word that it will fix the system to ensure that the career progression of medical officers on contract in the public service are not hindered in any way, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Prime Minister said that as an immediate solution, the Cabinet has agreed that all contract medical officers, dental officers and pharmaceutical officers be offered a contract of service for two years upon completion of mandatory service.
“This to ensure that there is a continuity in service and preparation for specialist studies," he said in a statement Friday (July 23).
“The Cabinet has 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-year contract service. This is to ensure they can complete their specialist studies," he added.
This announcement comes in the midst of protests from junior contract doctors who said the current contract system in the civil service was unfair.
There have also been reports of junior doctors from public service resigning due to this.
Muhyiddin said that contracts must be in line with the career of a permanent medical officer.
They should be offered fully-paid study leave as well as sponsorship akin to fully-paid study leave and Federal Training Awards.
“The government understands the demand of the contract healthcare employees and acknowledges their contribution and roles as frontliners in giving the best healthcare to the people, especially in this Covid-19 pandemic.
“To ensure that the matter is given complete attention and handled wholly and effectively, I have ordered the Health Ministry and all the relevant agencies to form a comprehensive and inclusive plan involving immediate actions, short-term, medium-term and long-term plans,” said Muhyiddin.
The Cabinet also agreed that there will be an upgrading of the benefits such as special medical duty leave, TB leave and allowance to visit place of origin to be offered to contract medical officers, dental officers and pharmaceutical officers.
“These decisions will provide the government space to finalise the reform study of the health system which is being done, looking at the existing Medical Act 1971 and to form a long-term plan for the medical profession.
“The government appreciates the contributions of doctors as frontliners in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are committed to ensure the welfare and the career progression of the contract medical officers, dental officers and pharmaceutical officers are given the due and fair attention,” said Muhyiddin.
Prior to this, a group of junior contract doctors stated that they were dissatisfied with the introduction of the contract system which was put in place in December 2016.
Before that, doctors and other HCPs were employed on a permanent basis till retirement.
The contract system was introduced to reduce the size of the civil service and introduce competitiveness in hiring.
While the contract system is a reasonable human resource policy, the doctors stated that the system currently hinders the career progression of contract doctors.
These doctors are only provided contracts for a total of five years, which is inadequate to complete their specialist training that may take five to 10 years.
Additionally, contract doctors cannot enrol in the Masters’ programmes in local universities, as it is limited to doctors with permanent posts.
The group of dissatisfied medical officers had also promoted a Code Black campaign to voice their protest on social media, with some supporting a mass protest due on July 26.