PETALING JAYA: Contract pharmacists and dentists from the 2016/2017 batch can apply for a permanent position with the Health Ministry through the Public Services Commission Job Registration System (SPA 9) from Jan 30 to Feb 12.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said this would be rolled out after the hiring process for dentists and pharmacists from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 batches which opened on Jan 6, concluded on Jan 21.
"A total of 242 dentists and 321 pharmacists on contract from the 2016 and 2017 batches are eligible for permanent positions," she said in a statement on Friday (Jan 27).
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Dr Zaliha urged applicants to register and update their information on the SPA9 system.
"The Health Ministry hopes that contract dentists and pharmacists from the 2016 and 2017 batches will be able to make the necessary preparations for the intake," she added.
The announcement came in the wake of The Star’s report on Jan 27 that Hartal Contract Pharmacists (Hartal Ahli Farmasi Kontrak) from the 2016/2017 batch had threatened to stage a walkout if their absorption into the civil service was not given enough importance.
They also urged the government to do away with the interview procedure for permanent positions.
A spokesman for the group also questioned the lower quota for permanent positions for pharmacists compared to doctors.
The movement was formed on Jan 21, after pharmacists from the 2016/2017 batch did not get clear-cut answers from the ministry and the Public Services Commission (PSC) on why those from the batch were not invited for the next interview session despite being the oldest batch on contract.
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The spokesman added that doctors from the 2016 batch had been called for interviews.
"When some of us asked the PSC and the Health Ministry, we were told that we had been given chances twice previously, but when they called us for the first time in February 2020, there were vacancies for 30 pharmacists nationwide and they called almost 600 of us (for the interview)," he claimed.
He went on to add that for the second interview in June 2022, there were 400 vacancies for 1,500 applicants.
Dr Zaliha said on Jan 6 that a total of 4,914 permanent positions would be available in the Health Ministry in 2023.
She said that 4,263 positions would be for medical officers, 335 would be for dentists, and 316 would be for pharmacists.
Commenting on this, the spokesman said the composition of permanent posts for pharmacists was only about 8% of the openings for doctors.
"And when all these doctors get their placements, do they think the understaffed pharmacies can cater to the patients treated by the more than 4,200 doctors?" he asked.
"At the end of the day, patients will complain about us and blame us for the late distribution of medicines, but the issue is that we lack the manpower," he said.
The movement, which started with about 100 members, has gained traction on social media.