THERE is a need to find an immediate and permanent solution for the problems facing 23,000 contract doctors in terms of their job security and career advancement.
Their plight has been raised for sometime now but there seems to be no permanent solution in sight. Their woes have also been supported by some Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat.
Their insecurity and lack of future prospects led them to the Hartal Doktor Kontrak which saw scores of doctors nationwide walk out of hospitals recently.
It has been reported that the police will take action against those who participated in the walkout. Please don’t throw the book at them. Theirs is a legitimate cause and their act was a desperate effort to seek a solution.
As they have been looking after our health under the most trying circumstances, they deserve our sympathy, not our censure.
Among the temporary solutions that have been proposed are the extension of the contract period by another two years. But that is no relief. It only helps to prolong their feelings of insecurity and uncertainty.
One explanation given for the delay in coming up with a permanent solution to this malady is the matter of cost.
But if that were true, all that is needed is to cut down some non- essential expenditure elsewhere and rechannel the funds to this worthy cause.
The cost of absorbing them into permanent positions should be offset against the possible decline in the much-needed top level of healthcare.
What other cause can be more deserving than the need to uphold the standard and extent of healthcare during this time when we are battling the Covid-19 pandemic?
These doctors have been part of the solution, not the problem. They have been the frontliners who have been overworked and overstretched while providing much-need medical and healthcare services in government hospitals.
It has been said that preceding the solution must be amendments to the Pensions Act and rules of EPF (Employees Provident Fund). These can easily be done. The Public Services Department should immediately engage with the Health Ministry. We don’t need a sledgehammer to swat a fly.
It is noted that the director-general of Health, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, has called for a special task force to look into these doctors’ grouses. I hope that such a committee will be set up without delay with a directive to come up with solutions in the shortest possible time.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE , Kuala Lumpur