KUALA LUMPUR, August 19 — Some 3.3 per cent, or 665 doctors, of 19,909 contract medical officers were given permanent positions in the public sector as of July 31 this year, according to Dr Adham Baba.
“As for dental officers, these contract extensions were offered to 388 officers who completed their three-year compulsory service, whereas 661 pharmacy officers who also completed their three-year training and compulsory service were similarly offered the same contract extensions,” the health minister said in a written Parliament reply on August 13 to Serian MP Richard Riot.
Dr Adham added that none of the UD41 medical officers, whose contracts were extended for six months this year to help with the Covid-19 outbreak, have received permanent posts because there are no vacancies.
The health minister previously announced last April that the government has extended by six months the contracts of government doctors, pharmacists, and dentists whose service ended late last year or is due for termination this year.
He had said the contract renewals were for 1,139 pharmacy officers on the UF41 civil service grade, 852 UG41 dental officers, and 79 UD41 medical officers.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii wrote last April that the six-month contract extension was merely a “stop-gap measure”, or a short-term fix to the problem, without giving proper assurance and security to Malaysian health care workers.
Dr Yii also pointed out, while debating the King’s speech in Parliament, that contract doctors were mainly dissatisfied with the selection process for permanent appointments, as they perceived the performance review process as opaque and open to favouritism and bias. The contract system for government doctors, pharmacists, and dentists was introduced in 2017.
He suggested that the Ministry of Health (MOH) use service in district hospitals and rural clinics as a criterion in offering doctors permanent positions, pointing out that 45.6 per cent of rural clinics in the interiors of Sarawak are run by nurses or medical assistants only.
CodeBlue reported previously that nearly 1,500 contract housemen from the third cohort — whose training started in May 2017 — were 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.
Sarawak’s SUPP said last April that Sarawakians only comprised nine, or less than 10 per cent, out of 102 medical officers nationwide from the May 2017 batch who received offers of permanent positions to serve in Sarawak.