Medical Council at fault too


THE shocking revelation that a large number of “floating contract medical officers” are in limbo between being housemen and medical officers is not surprising, “No placements for housemen” (The Star, April 23). In fact, it seems like this issue is part of the symptoms of a larger disease plaguing the Health Ministry.

The ministry bought itself time back in 2016 with the implementation of the shift system. The hope then was to find an amicable solution to this issue before these contract house officers make the step up to the position of medical officers.

But look at where we are two and a half years down the road. Those who have completed their housemanship training in December 2016 are still waiting for confirmation of their posts as medical officers and are being given temporary placements with no end date in sight! This reeks of inefficiency within the ranks of the Health Ministry.

While this disorganisation is extremely frustrating, it is not limited to the ministry alone but is also seen in the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

Frustration among the medical fraternity towards the MMC has been apparent for a few years now. Various issues such as delays in receiving the Annual Practicing Certificate (APC), difficulties in contacting the MMC, and weak responses to enquiries have caused disgruntlement among doctors.

Since February, the MMC website has been placed under maintenance. Attempts to call it via the official hotline are almost always unsuccessful and email do not receive any reply. In this situation, how can doctors practising far from the Klang Valley obtain information or clarification to enquiries they have with the MMC?

House officers approaching the end of their housemanship are now facing similar discontentment as they seek to apply for their full registration numbers. When queried about the reason for the long wait, the answer was the IT system was down and thus the applications had yet to be processed.

When asked about how long it would take for the system to be up and running, the answer was “unsure”.

This inefficiency is unprofessional because this is the council that manages the medical profession in Malaysia. It plays a highly important role in recognising the qualification of all medical practitioners and also in the deliverance of care to the public. MMC’s inability to resolve its issues simply compounds the existing problems.

For the aforementioned house officers, the delay is a setback to the progression of their careers. This inadvertently results in the worsening of the backlog at the stages between house officer and medical officer.

Let me summarise the list of concerns house officers are facing today. On top of putting their energy into their training to become competent doctors, they have to worry about the inefficiency of the MMC in processing their applications for a full licence.

And even if they get their registration sorted out, they are then placed in a situation where they are in the dark over their future placements. I really feel sorry for them.

Junior doctors are the backbone of the healthcare service today. They are the ones who will, in due time, become leaders in the healthcare system.

The Health Ministry should work hand in hand with the Malaysian Medical Council to ensure these junior doctors get to progress smoothly in their careers without bureaucracy holding them back. Ultimately, it is the public who will lose out if our talented youngsters find this quagmire too difficult to navigate and decide to opt for employment elsewhere.

A CONCERNED DOCTOR

Johor Baru