Contract doctors leaving public service: Concerns rise over implications on patients


Wong Siew Mun is a spokesperson for MCA

MCA shares in the concerns of numerous government contract medical doctors of an impending doctor shortage triggered by an exodus consequent to an announcement by the Public Service Department (PSD) that contract doctors, dentists and pharmacists under its scholarships are permitted to apply for release from their bonds.

PSD's announcement was made to reduce the growing numbers of contract medical officers (MOs) in the national healthcare system. The contract scheme in the Health Ministry was started in 2016. Thus, contract MOs who are permitted by the PSD announcement to terminate their bonds refer to those appointed after 2016, as well as those who had taken loans before 2016.

With at least 1,000 contract MOs expected to apply to forgo their bonds, the immediate concern is that their departure will leave a heavier burden on remaining government doctors to bear in public hospitals and clinics. Meanwhile, our frontliners will also shoulder the burden of added responsibilities considering that Covid-19 cases are seeing a resurgence.

Moreover, contract doctors who were recipient of government scholarships or loans were funded by taxpayers. Therefore, it is only just that they serve the government and contribute towards the greater good of our nation and citizens.

According to the former Ministry of Health on 4 August 2020, the ratio of doctors to patient as of August 2020 is 1:454. However, this ratio does not take into account the gap between urban and rural areas. So far, the doctor-patient ratio in Sabah is 1: 856, and 1:662 in Sarawak, with 45.6 per cent of rural clinics in Sarawak having no doctors at all.

In this regard, MCA hopes the burden which government frontliners have to bear will not be unnecessarily compounded due to the exit of thousands of contract MOs from the public sector in future.

Furthermore, Malaysia’s number one invisible enemy at the moment, ie Covid-19 infections have climbed by 27.9% this week compared to the previous week. Efforts to combat Covid-19 cannot lighten but need to continue.

PSD and the Health Ministry should consider offering permanent positions to contract MOs with outstanding services during their tenure, in addition to upgrading allowances and other benefits to improve their welfare. Ultimately, we sincerely hope that this issue can be addressed holistically

WONG SIEW MUN

MCA Spokesperson

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