KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — A doctors’ group said today it has demanded a clear-cut ranking system from the government that would allow contract doctors to still be absorbed into permanent roles over an extended period of time.
The Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) Section Concerning House Officers, Medical Officers, and Specialists (SCHOMOS) also said it has demanded more immediate positions for contract doctors, though the association did not set a fixed number.
“Yes, we understand that there is a limited number of permanent positions. The first request we made is for an increase in these permanent positions.
“But besides that, we have also offered a ‘Plan B’, where proper merit and an extended contract system (is made available) so there is proper career progression or job security for all contract health care workers,” SCHOMOS chairperson Dr Vijay Ganasan told a media briefing today.
Dr Vijay said this when asked if the group will moderate its demand for permanent roles after organisers of the Hartal strike today claimed that 300 contract medical officers, specifically from the May 2017 intake, had been offered permanent posts effective from July 15.
While the Hartal movement, organised separately by an independent group of doctors, said the government’s offer of permanent posts showed “the people’s will is a force to be reckoned with”, it said the latest proposal is not in line with the government’s recent one-year, one-off contract extension offer for junior doctors.
The permanent offer for 300 contract doctors also entails placements in Sabah and Sarawak, despite urgent manpower needed in the Klang Valley, organisers argued. Hartal organisers have maintained their demand that all contract doctors must be given permanent roles in the health system. Failure to meet the demand will lead to a nationwide strike on July 26, they said.
Both MMA and SCHOMOS do not condone the strike and have echoed Health Minister Dr Adham Baba’s recent warning that disciplinary action can be taken against doctors going on strike under the Medical Act 1971.
Moving forward, Dr Vijay said he is hopeful that the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be able to make headway and meet the demands set out by MMA in the next Cabinet meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. The MMA also launched an online petition as an extension to its “CodeBlack” movement that ran from July 1 until today.
“We will continue to push our demands through constant engagement through the official channels. However, from our last meeting with the MOH, we were told that the matter will be resolved at the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.
The “CodeBlack” online movement, initiated by MMA and SCHOMOS, culminated in a “Black Monday” today, where supporters of the movement don black outfits to work and post pictures online with hashtags like #saveMYcontractHCW, #CodeBlackMY and #BlackMondayMY.
Dr Vijay said about 15,000 medical workers have shown support for the campaign. Code black is a hospital code that refers to a hospital emergency denoting a threat to personnel, or a suspicious or bomb threat.