Government Doctors’ Evaluation System Opaque, Open To Bias, Doctors Claim

58% of doctors in a Facebook survey said the system is open to abuse.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 – A doctor has called for a new performance evaluation measurement for government doctors, citing a survey where almost all respondents believed there was something seriously wrong with the system.

The SKT/LNPT (Sasaran Kerja Tahunan/ Laporan Penilaian Prestasi Tahunan) is a performance evaluation tool for government doctors, where every doctor is assessed by two superiors and given a mark indicating their performance over the past year.

According to a recent survey on Doctors Only Bulletin Boards (DOBBS) on Facebook, which is a platform consisting of over 16,000 Malaysian doctors (selecting multiple options were allowed), 58 per cent of votes stated that the system is open to abuse, misuse and open to favouritism.

“As the assessments are done by two superiors — many are assessed based on how well they impress these two superiors. Having poor attitude and dishonest work ethics can still result in high marks if one is able to butter up your superiors nicely,” said Dr Timothy Cheng of University Malaya Medical Centre in an open letter.

“Complaints against work ethics/ attitude of superiors are often threatened with ‘I will give you low SKT marks’ and used to suppress subordinates. SKT marks have been used to ‘punish’ those that choose to voice out against injustice and dishonesty.”

A survey on DOBBS (Doctors Only Bulletin Boards) on Facebook, which is a platform consisting of over 16,000 Malaysian doctors, conducted early November 2019.

Furthermore, the survey added that 27 per cent claimed the system is not transparent and needs a revamp.

Dr Cheng stated that the involvement of only two superiors also results in an assessment which is not transparent.

“More often than not, the second assessor does not even know who the doctor being assessed is, and gives marks based on hearsay or the advice from others.”

He also added that the SKT/ LNPT marks are employed for salary increments and awards for scholarship for post-graduate studies and so on.

“85 per cent is used as the benchmark. As a result of such a system, many administrators have told assessors, ‘Just give everyone 85 per cent’ to ensure that all have a fair chance. What kind of culture are we promoting?” he asked.

“This SKT/LNPT system is merely the tip of the iceberg of issues plaguing the civil service. Create a 360, bottom up, transparent evaluation system, one that will truly reflect the day to day work ethics and performance of a doctor.”

He countered the Health Ministry’s claim that it could do nothing about the limited positions for doctors in the civil service and that it was up to the Public Service Department, saying: “This SKT system is something that can be done by the ministry itself.”

Dr Cheng’s remarks came after Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced that the Health Ministry could no longer guarantee permanent employment to medical officers, who may be reappointed on contract to serve the government for a mandatory two years instead.

All contract medical officers will continue their two-year mandatory service on housemen’s UD41 civil service grade, instead of being promoted like their permanent counterparts to UD44.

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