‘Make hiring process transparent’

Solve the problem: Dr Subramaniam says the issue of contract doctors has been an ongoing problem for five years.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is calling for greater transparency in the hiring of permanent doctors.

There are currently no clear indicators as to how the selection process is carried out or what aspect is taken into consideration, said MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy.

Making the selection process of contract medical officers for permanent posts transparent and clear, he said, would allow house officers to carve their career path and strive to achieve excellence.

He said the MMA has also called for more permanent placements as well as housemanship training hospitals to be built to cope with the high number of local and foreign medical graduates.

“The recent announcement by the Prime Minister allowing contract doctors to apply for specialisation and providing longer contracts for doctors who are able to specialise is welcomed,” he said, noting, however, that it was a short-term solution.

He said the issue of contract doctors had been an ongoing problem for the last five years.

The number of graduates returning from overseas colleges compounded the problem, he said, adding that the government should look into reducing the number of recognised overseas medical schools.

“New medical school approvals should be heavily scrutinised – only accept the best of the best.

“The existing recognised medical schools should be periodically re-evaluated and any medical school which is deemed not up to par should be de-recognised,” he said.

On Wednesday, Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) called for more hospitals to be gazetted for housemanship training and suggested the country ramp up its healthcare expenditure to ease the gridlock in available posts in the medium and long term.

Mapcu deputy president Prof Dr Pradeep Nair told The Star that Malaysia currently spends 4.4% of its Gross Domestic Product on healthcare, compared to the recommended 7% by WHO.

There are also 31 medical schools in the country, he said, 11 of which are government institutions, while annually, Malaysia has 5,000 to 6,000 doctors who need housemanship training.

Of these, about 50% to 60% are locally trained and the rest are graduates from overseas.

Reiterating MMA’s proposal to make it mandatory for all medical graduates to sit for a common entrance examination, Dr Subramaniam said the move would lead to more transparency in the selection process and promote healthy competition among aspiring doctors.

A “competency list” would also better prepare medical graduates for their housemanship as many house officers struggle to cope with the hospital environment which differs from medical school, he said.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has assured the country’s 23,000 contract officers that a special taskforce led by the MMA and the Health Ministry would look into the amendment of the Pension Act for their permanent employment with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

“As we continue to fight for better working conditions and a better future for contract officers, we might suffer and be hurt in our journey. In the interim, contract officers can still continue their postgraduate education.

“It is our utmost hope that in two years or less, they will be absorbed into permanent employment under the EPF,” he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

On Monday, the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” (Contract Doctors’ Strike) movement involving medical officers on contract, and pharmaceutical officers and dental officers who are seeking permanent positions in the public service, staged a walkout from hospitals nationwide to protest against the lack of job security and career progression.

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