Yesterday, the Minister of Health, YB Dr Adham Baba, announced the PN Cabinet has decided last Friday to upgrade contract medical officers (MOs) from UD41 to UD43 to enjoy the same paygrade as their permanent counterparts, as they have the same responsibility and face the same risk in hospitals.
I welcome this move, although there are pertinent questions that need to be answered by the Minister to make sure that this is not merely an announcement, but that tangible actions and implementation will be done for the sake of our young health care workers.
First and foremost, such a decision was ALREADY MADE in the Cabinet under the PH government in November 2019, but yet, it was slow to be implemented under the current government.
So, in order for it not just to be a mere announcement, the Minister must be transparent and clarify:
- When will the upgrade from UD41 to UD43 happen for these contract workers?
- Will this involve ALL those under the UD41 contract who have finished their housemanship? If not, how many are involved?
- How much will this cost and has it already been allocated in this year’s Budget 2021?
All these have to be clarified and we want to see it clearly in the Budget so that it’s not merely an announcement.
On top of that, I believe that the government should take an extra step to allow these contract workers similar access to perks enjoyed by the permanent MOs as their responsibility, workload, and even risk is the same.
It is only a policy decision that can be made on a Ministry level, which includes access for them to get special leave, such as hazard leave, study leave etc.
On top of that, the government should allow them to apply for Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) to further their Masters and specialisation in local universities to address the lack of specialists in our country.
The best way we can appreciate our medical frontliners, especially for their service to our country during this pandemic, is to invest in them and give them better security of tenure and, of course, a chance for them to further specialise in their desired Masters programme.
This is, of course, in line with the efforts by the government and hospitals to produce more specialists to address the lack of them nationwide, and also to improve the quality of health care for our patients.
Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.