Contract Doctor Jobs Don’t Solve Medical Student Glut, Muslim Medical Group Says

IMAM wants an entrance exam for medical graduates from foreign universities.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Contract employment of junior government doctors is unfathomable because the stretched public health care system actually needs more doctors, the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM) said today.

IMAM pointed out that some housemen and medical officers worked continuously for up to 30 hours, while ICU beds, clinics and wards were getting increasingly congested and wait times for consultation, tests, and non-emergency treatment were getting longer than ever.

“And when quality health care service delivery means continuity and familiarity, limiting the continuous work opportunities for working doctors by contract expiration is counterintuitive and misreading the problem; that is the excess of students in medical training in the first place,” IMAM said in a statement.

“The PSD (Public Service Department) should seriously consider the request to provide more permanent posts for doctors in the public service. MOH (Ministry of Health), along with Ministry of Education (MOE), should vigorously regulate the student entry in medical training by rationalising the number with stringent qualifying criteria, such as a universal medical entry exam for foreign university medical graduates.

“Other deleterious effects of this move is equally worrying: the contract status of these doctors reduce the opportunity to become future specialists that our country is in dire need for.”

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye reportedly said Tuesday that MOH should be exempt from a recruitment freeze because of a shortage of permanent posts and because more medical staff are needed in new health facilities.

Bernama also reported the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service (Cuepacs) as saying yesterday that MOH should be exempted from a hiring freeze under the Public Service Size Control Policy and Optimal Human Resource Policy.

Last Friday, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad repeated his previous statements in Parliament that MOH 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. These junior doctors were told that after their compulsory service with MOH, they could seek jobs in public university hospitals or in the private sector.

MOH also confirmed last week that all contract medical officers would continue their two-year mandatory service on housemen’s UD41 civil service grade, instead of being promoted like their permanent counterparts to UD44 that comes with a bigger salary. Contract medical officers are also unable to pursue their Master’s to be specialists because three years’ experience in a permanent medical officer post is required.

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