PETALING JAYA: Hartal Ahli Farmasi Kontrak is asking for at least 1,000 permanent positions to be allocated for contract pharmacists instead of just 316.
Their request came in the wake of Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s announcement on Friday (Jan 27) that 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.
“Although YB (Dr Zaliha) has given us the opportunity to apply for permanent positions, there were only 316 vacancies compared with 4,263 for doctors,” a spokesman for the group tells The Star on condition of anonymity.
He said while the group is not against doctors, it wants a fair chance to be given to pharmacists as well.
He added that the patient load will increase as the number of doctors increases.
However, there may be a longer waiting time in dispensing medicines as pharmacies are understaffed. This, he said, will lead to patients blaming pharmacists.
“I am appealing that the quantity of permanent positions for pharmacists be increased to 1,000 or more, or at least a quarter of the 4,200 vacancies for doctors,” he said.
“There are not many of us and we can be absorbed automatically without having to undergo interviews which are a waste of time and the government’s money.
“We have worked for seven years, do we still have to be interviewed?
“Why not us? We have been working from the years before Covid-19, through the pandemic and even now as we head to endemic,” he added.
The spokesman also said importance have to be given to other units besides just doctors.
The movement for contract pharmacists is also urging the government to abolish the contract system, which was introduced in 2016, given the increasing burden of patient load.
He claimed that based on the data collated by the movement, there are less than 100 pharmacists left from the 2016 and 2017 batches as opposed to the 321 according to the ministry. He said most have quit the civil service.
Dr Zaliha had said the application for the 2016 and 2017 batches would be rolled out after the hiring process for dentists and pharmacists from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 batches, which opened on Jan 6, and 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.
Earlier, The Star reported that Hartal had threatened to stage a walkout if their absorption into the civil service was not given enough importance.
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.
Starting off with 100 members, the group has gained traction on social media.
The movement comes after the Hartal Doktor Kontrak was formed in 2021. Hartal Doktor Kontrak staged a nationwide walkout in July 2021 to protest the contract system.