IT’S true that when young government contract doctors walked out from hospitals nationwide two months ago on Sept 26, they were protesting the lack of job security and career progression.
Widely known as the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” (Contract Doctor Strike), it involved 23,000 medical officers on contract and included pharmaceutical officers and dental officers.
Some of the hospitals involved included Hospital Sungai Buloh, Selayang Specialist Hospital, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Klang’s Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital, Hospital Shah Alam, Hospital Melaka and Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II in Kota Baru.
Medical officers at Hospital Shah Alam wore black and carried placards stating, “We want career security” and “Justice for 23K contract doctors”.
The uproar saw Health director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah assure frontliners affected, in a Facebook post on July 27, that a special task force led by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Health Ministry was looking into the plight of contract doctors.
Taking pity on the plight of the contract doctors, medical experts said the problem the country was facing with contract doctors was not due to the oversupply of medical graduates but the insufficient number of posts available for housemanship.
The MMA had also asked the government to make the hiring process of permanent doctors more transparent as currently, there are no clear indicators how the selection process is carried out or what aspect is taken into consideration, former MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said.
Former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also announced on July 23 that the government had agreed to provide contract medical officers, dentists and pharmacists with career opportunities on par with permanent medical officers.
In response to the demand of permanent positions for all current government contract workers, the government offered to extend their contracts to a minimum of four years.