Doctors’ strike will lead to long waits, group warns

PETALING JAYA: After the threat of a nationwide strike, the Mogok Doktor Malaysia (Malaysian Doctors on Strike) group has now cautioned people not to go to health clinics and public hospitals on April 3-5, as the waiting times are expected to be longer while the strike is underway.

Previously, the movement of doctors attached to the Health Ministry had urged contract medical officers to take emergency or medical leave on the dates proposed as a sign of protest.

“Kindly do not visit any general hospitals or government clinics from April 3 to 5,” it said in an Instagram post yesterday.

“There are more than 8,000 contract doctors who are going on a strike by taking medical/emergency leave as a protest against the unfair system and low wages. So, your time of waiting will be longer than usual. Thank you,” it added.

Organisers told The Star on Tuesday that they asked doctors to take emergency or medical leave as they do not encourage demonstrations or flashmobs.

They also warned of potential mass resignations on April 1.

A representative of the group, who declined to be named, said it had decided to proceed with the strike peacefully by instead 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 had said a strike is not the best way to handle issues related to the medical or any other profession.

Separately, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa reportedly told the Dewan Negara that the ministry was engaging with the Public Service Department (PSD) to absorb contract medical personnel as permanent staff without pensions.

Bernama reported her as saying that this was to manage the workload which had exceeded the capacity of available resources and to reduce the burden on the pension scheme, which had amounted to RM29.1bil in 2021.

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