KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — Dr Adham Baba has warned that opening up permanent positions for government doctors in the Ministry of Health (MOH) exceeding available vacancies could risk audit censure.
The health minister said medical officers would be offered permanent posts in the service based on available slots and they must also meet the criteria set by the government.
He said MOH remained subject to the government’s rightsizing policy in the civil service — which has been in place since the Abdullah administration — and that applications for permanent posts must be made to the central agency that take into account the actual need for positions in current and new facilities.
“Posts are not increased based on the increasing number of medical graduates each year,” Dr Adham said in a statement yesterday.
“In order to ensure that the evaluation process is more fair and equitable, the evaluation is being conducted at each placement during the graduate training process and the evaluation criteria for permanent appointments are also informed to each medical officer,” the minister added.
Besides that, Dr Adham said that MOH has formed three evaluation committees: Permanent Posting Technical Committee at the medical programme level, the Permanent Appointment Selection Committee chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General (Management), as well as certificate of permanent appointment to the top management of the ministry to maintain transparency and integrity in the process of certifying permanent appointments of medical officers on a regular basis.
It is clear that the current government is still maintaining the same recruitment policy for doctors by hiring medical graduates on a contract basis to undergo medical graduate training and to complete their two-year compulsory service in public health care facilities.
The then-Barisan Nasional (BN) administration introduced the contract doctor system in 2016 to reduce the glut of medical graduates waiting for housemanship from over 30 medical schools nationwide.
Dr Adham’s statement was a response to the Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) and Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (PERDIM), who urged the government to relook its recruitment policy for new medical gradutes.
The medical groups proposed to the government to ensure that medical graduates, especially Bumiputera, be given a permanent post and to reduce the unemployment rate among the medical professionals in Malaysia.
Dr Adham mentioned that the government is providing placements to medical graduates to undergo their training in public health care facilities as stated in the Medical Act 1971.
According to the health minister, from December 2016 to May 31, 2021, a total of 23,077 UD41 medical officers were appointed on a contract basis to undergo graduate training and compulsory service.
“Of them, a total of 789 out of 2,544 officers from the first cohort of 2016, from the first cohort of 2017, and a part from the second cohort of 2017 were given permanent appointments,” Dr Adham said.
“For the other cohort of appointees who are still in training and have not yet been considered for permanent appointments, their services are still extended till 2022.”
Dr Adham also said that health services in the country are not limited to the public sector alone, citing other opportunities for medical officers to pursue their career in university hospitals, military hospitals and private health care facilities in the country.
Contract doctors face an uncertain future, as they are not eligible for the Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) scholarship to apply for local master’s programmes to specialise. Although doctors may proceed with parallel pathways on their own, they still need a certain number years of training in either an MOH or a university hospital to become a specialist.