PETALING JAYA: As claims mount of contract doctors going on strike next week, the Health Ministry has announced that a high-level committee will be formed to look into the issue.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the Cabinet in a meeting on Friday agreed to set up the committee which would include several ministries and agencies, as well as the Chief Secretary to the Government.
This is to deal with issues related to contract doctors that have been making the rounds on social media and the mainstream media, said Dr Zaliha, who also stressed that strikes were not the best way to resolve issues in the medical field.
She noted that there have been reports that contract doctors would be going on strike from Monday to Wednesday.
“For now, the ministry has no further information on the strike.
‘The ministry believes that a strike is not the best solution to any problem that arises relating to the profession of medical officers or any other professional scheme.
“On the other hand, this matter needs to be weighed carefully,” she said in a statement yesterday.
She added that this was because health services were critical services that involved human lives and people’s wellbeing.
Dr Zaliha said the long-standing contract doctor issue has been inherited by previous administrations since the contract doctor system was introduced in 2016 to overcome the glut of medical graduates in Malaysia.
However, the ministry has from time to time acted according to the issues and problems raised by members of the medical fraternity, she said.
Among them were creating permanent employment, providing sponsorships for specialist or advanced training, offering time-based promotions, promotion opportunities to special grades and also the creation of UD56 grades for medical experts.
Other health schemes were also taken care of and improved, she said.
“Therefore, the ministry would like to emphasise that a strike is not the best solution and any problems that arise must be addressed through mutual involvement in a more professional and prudent manner.
“A civil servant, whether in a permanent position or on contract, is subject to public servant integrity and Public Services Ethics,” added Dr Zaliha.
In an immediate reaction, the Mogok Doktor Malaysia (Malaysian Doctors on Strike) group said its planned strike would proceed as usual, adding that there would be “no nego” (negotiation).
“We have lost our confidence in MOH (the Health Ministry). Multiple committees were formed before too, but nothing much has changed. (We have been) disappointed again and again.
“We are giving time to those who are waiting for their results.
“Once the interview result is out, everyone will resign immediately within 24 hours,” said a group representative.
The group had said that 3,000 contract medical officers would leave the ministry in the coming days (and not necessarily on April 1 itself) while 8,000 others would not be present to work from April 3 to 5.
Hartal Doktor Kontrak, in a tweet, while lauding the news of the high-level panel, wanted to know who would be its members.
The group also asked whether staffers from the grassroots level, who would know more about what’s happening on the ground, would be roped into the committee.