KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — A doctors’ group today questioned a purported Ministry of Health (MOH) order that medical officers would be placed according to the “importance of service”, as opposed to the field that they want.
Dr S.S. Vikkineshwaran — chairman of Malaysian Medics International (MMI), a group of Malaysian doctors and medical students worldwide — cited a supposed circular dated September 30, 2019, by Health Ministry deputy secretary-general (management) Mohd Shafiq Abdullah who said, as of October 21, contract housemen who have finished their training and obtained full registration as medical officers would be given new placements without waiting for an offer of permanent employment or a renewed contract position.
“Placement of the new officers will be done according to the Placement and Transfer Committee based on the importance of service,” said the alleged letter by Shafiq that MMI posted on Twitter.
“However, if officers successfully gain permanent appointments, their placements will be reshuffled according to job vacancies. For officers who fail to get permanent appointments, no new placements will be given.
“Decisions on permanent or contract appointment will be announced three months before the end of the first contract.”
Dr Vikkineshwaran, who is completing his housemanship in a month, told CodeBlue that the circular meant that medical officers could be placed anywhere, regardless of where they wished to practice.
“If I want to do surgery, they can place me in a gynae clinic, that’s not what I want to do. There’s no transparency.”
He also asked what MOH meant by placing medical officers according to “importance of service”.
The houseman claimed that there has been a “sudden drop” in the number of doctors at government clinics and district hospitals, while training hospitals had far too many medical officers.
Dr Vikkineshwaran complained that it has been very difficult to contact MOH’s training division to get clarification on the matter.
“It’s not fair to us. it’s very hard to question them.”
According to Dr Vikkineshwaran, five batches have completed their housemanship since doctors were taken in as contract medical officers since 2017 due to the lack of vacancies in government hospitals. Only 800 out of 5,000 housemen have received permanent placements as medical officers.
“There’s not much transparency on how they’ll do contract and permanent doctors. They keep on changing the requirements, so that creates a lot of confusion,” he said. “We don’t know where we’ll be.”
He said contract junior doctors would not be able to do their Master’s to get into specialisation, due to a government requirement that medical officers hold a permanent position for three years.
Shafiq’s office told CodeBlue that there was a letter with the same title as the purported circular by Shafiq, but could not confirm if it was penned by him, referring to the Human Resources Department instead.
MOH’s Human Resources Department previously issued a circular last February 7 that housemen who obtained full registration as medical officers would be retained in their training hospital. Medical officers would then be placed once offers for permanent employment or renewed contract positions were completed.
Shafiq’s purported circular could not be found on the Health Ministry’s website. The health minister’s office did not respond to questions at the time of writing.
UPDATE AT 9.00PM:
MOH has confirmed that the circular is genuine and explained how its new policy for medical officers works. Click here to read the full story.