Group threatens major contract doctors’ strike

PETALING JAYA: A group whose members identified themselves as contract medical officers with the Health Ministry has threatened mass resignation and a nationwide “strike” that could involve some 8,000 doctors from April 3-5.

An account known as “Mogok Doktor Malaysia” (Malaysian Doctors Strike) has since emerged on social media.

Unlike a traditional strike, the organisers have asked doctors to take emergency or medical leave on April 3-5 as a sign of protest, adding that they do not encourage demonstrations or flashmobs, although they also warned of potential mass resignations on April 1.

A representative of the group, who declined to be named, told The Star that it had decided to proceed with the strike peacefully by taking emergency leave or medical leave “because demonstration or walkouts will cause harm”.

“We have confirmed that an estimated 8,000 out of some 20,000 contract medical officers (MOs) will participate in this strike or mass resignation event,” the representative said when contacted.

“(Some) 3,000 contract MOs will resign on April 1, while the rest will not be present to work from April 3-5,” the representative said.

The group’s demands include the absorption of all contract MOs into permanent positions without any conditions or interviews; basic salary increments; higher on-call rates; a resolution to the shortage of specialists, MOs and house officers; and an automatic reduction in the compulsory service term for medical officers to three years.

It is also calling for a reduction in on-call and work hours for MOs and house officers, while on-call hours should not exceed six times a month, and working hours needed to be capped at 60 hours a week.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry is only aware of the alleged industrial action via social media.

“Generally, when a strike is organised, it is meant to send a specific message to the relevant parties.

“However, this has to be carefully thought through because health is a critical service – it involves lives and the wellbeing of the people,” he said in a statement.

Dr Noor Hisham said a strike is not the best way to raise issues in the medical profession.

He added the government has from time to time responded and acted on the issues raised and the requests of healthcare workers.

“Among them is the permanent posting, specialist training sponsorship or further training, time-based promotions, opportunities for promotion to special grade, and establishing the UD56 grade for specialists and others. Other health schemes were also taken into account and improved.

“I believe the government from time to time will ensure that all problems and requests are looked into in line with current issues, and are given the right solution based on the country’s economic capabilities,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the government will continue to prioritise health services, as shown in Budget 2023.

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