KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is working on extending government doctors’ contracts from two to 10 years, Deputy Health Minister I Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said.
CodeBlue reported that some 1,500 contract housemen from the third cohort — whose training started in May 2017 — were recently offered two-year contracts as UD41 medical officers from May 2020 to May 2022 to complete their compulsory government service. MOH’s offer letter stated that this would be their final contract.
No one from that batch received a permanent post, which means these junior doctors can’t join local universities’ Masters’ programmes to specialise because they’re not given full-pay study leave. Private hospitals typically only hire specialists.
“Regarding the 10-year contract, still in progress, not finalised,” Dr Noor Azmi told CodeBlue.
When asked if the new Perikatan Nasional government will promote all contract medical officers from the UD41 civil service grade to UD43 like their permanent counterparts, the deputy health minister said: “MOH already sent the proposal to JPA (Public Service Department) for consideration early this year.”
He did not give details on when JPA would make a decision on the promotion, which the previous Pakatan Harapan administration had agreed on but did not effect before it lost power in March.
UD41 contract medical officers are maintained on the same salary scheme as their junior housemen, but without an RM600 monthly flexi allowance. The annual salary differential between UD41 contract medical officers and their UD43/44 permanent counterparts is about RM8,000.
CodeBlue also reported that MOH was deploying nearly 400 contract medical officers across the country to Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s national Covid-19 centre. Junior doctors within Selangor started work last Friday, while outstation ones are to report for duty at Sungai Buloh Hospital today.
MOH’s March 18 instruction on postings to Sungai Buloh Hospital has left medical officers scrambling for accommodation with just five days’ notice.
Dr Kevin Ng, chairman of the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) SCHOMOS (a section supporting housemen and medical officers), said Sungai Buloh Hospital has assured him that it would provide temporary lodging for the new doctors.
K Hotel has also opened free rooms for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff working in Kuala Lumpur Hospital and other nearby hospitals.
Dr Shamesh Baskaran from Penang wrote that contract medical officers only had the weekend to pack up and move, as their leave has been frozen.
“Besides, they need to find a place to stay as well which is going to be extremely difficult for them due to the short time period and the Restricted Movement Order in action,” he said in an open letter to MOH yesterday.
He recalled his time between his induction course and placement as a house officer at Ampang Hospital, when he only had one weekend to move from Penang. He couldn’t find a place to rent and had to stay in a nearby hotel for nearly two weeks.
“In my case, RMO was not in place but imagine the plight my juniors have to go through,” Dr Shamesh said.
“Although they are contract medical officers, they too are part of our family and mainly the workforce that will work as a team to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. They should not be treated as “disposibles” [sic]. Therefore, please give them the recognition that they deserve.”