Junior Contract Doctors Across Malaysia Sent To Sungai Buloh Hospital, Covid-19 Centre

By Boo Su-Lyn | 20 March 2020

Those posted from outside Selangor report for duty at Sungai Buloh Hospital on March 23, just five days after MOH’s instruction on their transfers.

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is deploying nearly 400 contract medical officers to Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s main coronavirus treatment centre, with those outside Selangor starting next Monday.

A letter by MOH’s Human Resources Division secretary Zainal Alhakab Seman dated March 18 said the placements targeted UD41 grade contract junior doctors — who have completed their housemanship and obtained full registration to practice — from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 batches.

Most of the young contract doctors posted to Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor are from the batch that started their housemanship in November 2017, with a few from the batches of December 2016; May, July, September and October 2017; and February 2018.

Those posted from outside Selangor — Kelantan, Johor, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, and Penang — are required to report for duty at Sungai Buloh Hospital on March 23, just five days after MOH’s instruction on their transfers. Those transferred from other Selangor government hospitals start work at Sungai Buloh Hospital today.

“In line with the effort to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, especially in the Klang Valley, the Ministry of Health’s top management has decided to increase medical officers for postings to the Selangor state health department, specially to fulfill the importance of service at Sungai Buloh Hospital, the treatment centre for the outbreak,” Zainal said in his letter to government hospital directors and state health directors, as sighted by CodeBlue.

“These placements are final and any appeal will not be considered.”

Health authorities have designated Sungai Buloh Hospital as a Covid-19 admitting hospital, with 112 beds set aside for coronavirus patients, as well as a 14-bed intensive care unit. Departments on those floors have been moved to nearby facilities.

A junior contract medical officer in Johor said the past few batches were previously given two to four weeks’ notice on their postings, unlike the current five days’ notice for transfers to Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“They have to move everything from their current hospital or rental house, before lapor diri next Monday. Quite unfair,” the young doctor told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity, due to a government ruling that prohibits civil servants from speaking to the media.

“Most of us feel helpless, but nothing much can be done except taking up the offer and wait for the permanent post.”

He said junior doctors generally welcomed the experience of handling a new disease like the novel coronavirus, but their main grouse is job insecurity.

“Our health minister had stated end of last year, after this two-year renewal contract, we can look for job in uni, Ministry of Defence, private sector: an indirect message to us that there will be no more jobs in MOH for us,” the doctor said, referring to former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.

CodeBlue reported that nearly 1,500 contract housemen were only offered a two-year contract from May 2020 to May 2022 as medical officers on the UD41 civil service grade to complete their compulsory service, without any extension. Not a single doctor from the May 2017 housemen cohort received a permanent post.

While permanent medical officers are promoted to UD43, UD41 contract medical officers lose an RM600 monthly flexi allowance given to UD41 housemen — the annual salary differential between UD41 and UD43/44 officers is RM8,000.

Malaysia has reported a total of 900 coronavirus cases, including two deaths, recording yesterday 110 new infections, the fifth consecutive day of daily increases above 100 cases.

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