Two to four years extension not sufficient for specialising contract doctors, says SUPP

SIBU: Cabinet's decision to extend the contracts of medical and dental officers for a maximum of four years is insufficient, says SUPP education bureau chairman Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing (pic).

He said in a Zoom meeting on Saturday (July 24) that the extra four years was not enough for all medical officers (MOs) to prepare and pass their specialist exams.

"Obviously, the MOs on contract are not happy with the offer and they will carry on with the scheduled strike on July 26. About 18,000 will go on strike and we are concerned with the ongoing severe outbreak of Covid-19 and the Delta virus. This will significantly disrupt the medical service," he said.

He suggested a contract offer of 10 years is more reasonable if permanent posts are not financially feasible for the government, adding that this is to ensure contract doctors can complete their specialist studies.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had on Friday (July 23) said announced that all such contract doctors be offered a two-year extension upon completion of their mandatory service to enable their career progression.

He said following a paper presented to the Cabinet on July 14, the government agreed to extend the contracts of officers accepted for specialist studies for a maximum of four years.

Ding, who is the Meradong assemblyman, said the SUPP education bureau has also suggested that the Health Ministry and Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) should introduce a common professional examination like the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for all doctors, irrespective of whether they are local or overseas graduates.

“All medical graduates must sit for the licensing examination before being posted to hospitals for their housemanship,” said Ding.

"Secondly, as the country is seriously lacking in medical specialists, particularly in the rural areas of Sarawak, the ministry must seriously start training competent MOs so that in 10 years from now, the country will not face a serious shortage of medical specialists,” he added.

Ding urged the ministry to implement its own directive dated Feb 16, 2016, which stipulates that priority will be given to MOs who have passed the Part 1 or Part A of the parallel specialist studies such as MRCP (physician), MRCPCH (paediatrics), MRCOG (obstetrics & gynaecology) and MRCS (surgery).

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