KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Ministers will meet to discuss contract doctors’ demands ahead of their planned strike on July 26 to protest against the lack of permanent positions in the service.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said today that a Cabinet paper — which included demands submitted to improve the existing contract scheme for government doctors, dentists, and pharmacists — is being prepared and will be presented in a Cabinet meeting that will be held soon, without specifying the date.
As of May 31, a total of 35,216 health care professionals are on contract, comprising 23,077 medical officers, 5,000 dentists, and 7,139 pharmacists. An additional 12,153 undergraduates are enrolled in a training programme under the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) contract recruitment scheme.
Under the contract system, medical officers can only work in the public sector for five years (comprising up to three years of housemanship and two years’ compulsory service), after which they will be pushed into the private sector or be forced to continue specialist training overseas.
“Hence, I would like to request for the doctors in the contract system to remain calm,” Dr Adham said at today’s weekly Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) media briefing.
He said the government has so far worked to raise the salary and grades of contract doctors from UD41 to UD43, to a level that is almost at par with their permanent counterparts.
“However, demands made (to improve the current contract system) will be implemented accordingly based on the decision of the Cabinet,” he said, without elaborating.
An independent group organising the contract doctors’ strike earlier submitted a memorandum to MOH, a source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed with CodeBlue.
A press release is expected to be issued later today, while a press conference is scheduled for tomorrow.
CodeBlue previously reported that MOH had warned government workers that they face termination should they publicly criticise government policy on social media.
In a circular dated June 22, as sighted by CodeBlue, MOH secretary-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah reminded all MOH staff to be more “ethical” when using their social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok, or blogs.
Mohd Shafiq’s circular did not cite any particular incident that led to his warning.
The government, including MOH, has come under intense scrutiny amid a lockdown lasting beyond four weeks that has yet to significantly curb the Covid-19 epidemic.