KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 – The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today urged the government to promote contract medical officers to the UD43 civil service grade, from UD41, like their permanent counterparts.
“We strongly oppose the apartheid system imposed on the new medical officers with the offer of UD41 contract positions by the Public Services Department (JPA) to the doctors involved. This decision was a unilateral decision with no consult with the relevant bodies,” said MMA president Dr. N. Ganabaskaran in a statement.
“Prior to this, the MMA was assured that there would be no discrepancy between the contract and permanent positions, barring the duration of the contracts. The discrepancy in positions is only being introduced to the doctors within the government service and should not be the case. Should this be the norm then all levels of the civil service should also face similar conditions.”
He also added that this would affect work performance and motivation of the staff.
“There is little incentive for these junior doctors to perform well as the end result would still be the same.”
Dr Ganabaskaran also expressed concern about the low retention of medical officers into permanent positions.
“Although the positions for medical officers may be completely filled as per the current limited quota which is not adequate, it is obvious that the health care needs for the rakyat could be better met as many of the problems faced are due to the shortage of doctors, for example the long waiting times, rushed consultations, overworked doctors and health care staff.”
“We also urge the JPA and MOF (Ministry of Finance) to assist in increasing the number of positions for medical officers within the service as there is an obvious need in the health care of the Rakyat.”
The MMA president also highlighted the risks to patient safety with the low retention rate of permanent medical officers working in government, as junior doctors have little experience as independent practitioners.
“Issues related to lack of experience such as level of competency as well as the lack of further supervision may lead to an increase in threats to patient safety. Employability of these doctors would also be poor as many of the more established private practitioners and private hospitals would prefer to hire more experienced doctors instead,” he said.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed last Friday that almost half of the first two batches of contract housemen were appointed as medical officers on contract. Contract medical officers were told to seek employment in the private sector after completing their mandatory service with the government.
Out of the December 2016 and February 2017 cohorts of contract trainee doctors, 461 were reappointed as contract medical officers from December 2019 to December 2021 to undergo their compulsory two-year service with the government, all of whom were given the UD41 grade in the civil service, the same grade as housemen.
A total of 571 people from those two contract housemen batches, or 55 per cent, were given permanent posts as medical officers in MOH with a higher UD44/43 grade and bigger salary.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the federal government was now considering MOH’s application to create 10,675 vacancies in new facilities and those undergoing upgrades, after MOH was asked to review its July 2018 request for 21,741 job positions.