KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The government should show material appreciation to young contract doctors instead of demanding gratitude from them, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii told Deputy Health Minister Aaron Ago Dagang today.
Dr Yii urged the government to give contract doctors better security of tenure, including options to further their specialisation, as they would not have sufficient time to complete their specialist training without contract extensions beyond their two-year compulsory service in the public sector.
Aaron, who is Kanowit MP from Sarawak, told a forum yesterday that contract doctors should be “thankful” to the government for hiring them, claiming that the issue was not about unemployment, but about upgrading their skills.
“The government should instead be grateful to these young doctors that risk their lives serving day and night, especially during the pandemic, to make sure our people are cared for and protected,” Dr Yii said in a statement in response to Aaron.
“Since the beginning, I have been fighting for a fairer deal for them, including a longer contract so that it gives them an opportunity to specialise and finish their training, on top of allowing them equal opportunities to apply to local universities,” the DAP lawmaker added.
Aaron also claimed that Malaysia was “flooded with doctors”, as the government lacks sufficient housemanship slots for medical graduates.
“On top of that, it is not accurate to say that we are ‘flooded with doctors’ in Malaysia when the distribution of doctors, especially in rural areas, including Sarawak, is lacking. Many doctors still need to work overtime and double shifts just to fill in the gaps due to the lack, putting themselves at risk of infections and also burnout,” Dr Yii responded.
The federal lawmaker noted that 45.6 per cent of rural clinics in Sarawak lack doctors and are only staffed by medical assistants and nurses.
“Now, with the proposed implementation of the shift system in the Klinik Kesihatans, this will further strain the already limited workforce we have in the clinics, especially in the rural areas, which will result in a reduction of quality of care for patients.”
Groups representing doctors, pharmacists, and dentists have warned the government that implementing a shift system at public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) without boosting manpower may raise worker burnout rates and affect patient safety. Several large Klinik Kesihatan in each state are taking part in a pilot project for the shift system.