KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Contract medical officers from three university hospitals who were posted to Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s main Covid-19 treatment centre, haven’t been paid their April and May wages.
CodeBlue understands that an estimated 30 junior doctors from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Hospital UKM (HUKM), and Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) were among nearly 400 contract medical officers transferred to Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor last March to combat the Covid-19 epidemic that has infected over 7,000 people in Malaysia.
But while doctors deployed from other government hospitals and Sungai Buloh Hospital staff themselves have already received their salaries and allowances — including for the month of May on May 14 — the 30-odd contract medical officers from UMMC, HUKM, and HUSM are still awaiting two months’ wages ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri this weekend.
These public university hospitals are under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education, whereas Sungai Buloh Hospital is a Ministry of Health (MOH) facility.
“I don’t have money to spend for Raya,” a young doctor from UMMC, who makes about RM4,500 a month in salary and allowances, told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity.
According to the contract medical officer who said he cared for Covid-19 patients during the peak of the epidemic, Sungai Buloh Hospital administration said the two months’ owed wages for doctors from the university hospitals will “maybe” come in June, without specifying any specific date.
“If they don’t pay me by June, I’ll be severely affected,” said the 27-year-old doctor, adding that he was currently living on savings to pay phone bills and to buy food.
Another junior UMMC doctor — who gets about RM5,000 a month in salary and allowances — also complained why it was taking so long to process salary payments for just over two dozen staff.
“They told us the system of transferring salary to us is different because university hospitals pay their own system. But, we didn’t expect it to take up to three months,” he told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity, fearing disciplinary action for speaking to the press.
The 27-year-old contract medical officer, who said he directly handled coronavirus patients at Sungai Buloh Hospital, has been using his savings to cover rent, phone bills, food, study grant repayments, and his parents’ medical insurance.
“Still okay for now, but next month, I won’t be able to sustain lah,” he said.
Sungai Buloh Hospital’s corporate communications office declined comment, directing CodeBlue to MOH’s corporation communications unit that did not respond at the time of writing.
Update at 2.30pm: A Higher Education Ministry official clarified with CodeBlue that the 30-odd contract medical officers from the three university hospitals are MOH staff.
Update at 4.30pm: Sungai Buloh Hospital paid today the outstanding April and May wages for 31 contract medical officers posted from university hospitals, explaining that it only received salary-related documents from the university hospitals after the last salary payment date this month. Read more here.