Khairy: Over 8,600 Permanent Positions For Contract Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacists

“We need more specialists and more doctors. If we don’t provide security of tenure to these officers, they will leave the service,” Khairy Jamaluddin says.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) has pledged to create at least 8,686 permanent positions for medical, dental, and pharmacy officers from 2022 until 2025.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, at a news conference in Putrajaya today, said that the Cabinet has agreed to add 4,186 permanent positions at the MOH this year for the appointment of 3,586 medical officers, 300 dental officers, and 300 pharmacy officers who are currently on contract.

Appointments to the permanent positions will be made from June 2022, Khairy told a press conference in Putrajaya today following a town hall session with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Khairy also announced the Cabinet’s approval to provide at least 1,500 permanent positions for medical, dental, and pharmacy officers at the Health Ministry each year from 2023 until 2025.

He said 800 permanent positions for medical officers and 70 permanent positions for dental officers will be made available at MOH every year from 2023 to fill the gaps left by officers at the ministry’s health facilities who go on to become specialists.

Khairy said the government’s contract doctor system, which was first introduced in 2016, has only managed to absorb a total 1,118 medical officers, 1,019 dental officers, and 1,288 pharmacy officers to permanent roles, throughout its implementation up until 2021.

“As far as the budget is concerned, it is something that we have continuously tried to work out at the MOH level. I’ve informed the Cabinet that this is not solely about contract doctors, but fulfilling MOH’s needs.

“We need more specialists and more doctors. If we don’t provide security of tenure to these officers, they will leave the service,” Khairy said in response to CodeBlue’s request for details on the budget allocation for the permanent appointments.

Under Budget 2021, the bulk of MOH’s RM31.9 billion allocation was channelled mostly to operating expenses at RM27.2 billion. Of the ministry’s RM27.2 billion operating budget, emoluments made up the biggest portion at RM17.1 billion — meaning that staffing costs alone comprised more than half of MOH’s overall budget.

The MOH’s allocation under Budget 2022 was raised by 1.5 per cent to RM32.4 billion, of which RM28.03 billion will be used for operating expenses, a near 3 per cent increase from 2021.

“The prime minister fully supports the MOH’s advice to proceed with this move, via the Cabinet, and this includes additional allocations from the Ministry of Finance which also supports our notion of adding more permanent roles, and converting contract officers to permanent MOH staff,” Khairy said.

Among the requirements for contract officers to be absorbed into permanent roles is that they must receive their certificate of completion of housemanship training. Once they’ve received the certificate, they will go through the first layer of screening. 

Khairy said MOH will prepare the exact criteria for the screening process soon.

The Cabinet has also agreed to MOH’s roadmap to further address existing issues involving the government’s contract doctor system.

Khairy said the contents in the roadmap include:

  • the establishment of technical committees for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Dental Surgery to optimise the offering capacity and to control the quality of graduates from these programmes
  • the evaluation and updating of the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971
  • the implementation of the professional qualification examination to address issues of quality and competence of graduates
  • the strengthening of the National Expertise Studies Programme

Further details on this roadmap are being refined and will be finalised, Khairy said. 

Khairy said today’s announcement is proof of the government’s commitment to address issues involving the future of some 20,000 junior medical officers in public service who form the majority of frontline health workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said issues involving allowances and annual leaves are still being sorted, but assured it will be addressed “step-by-step”.

The government last month announced that contract doctors can now apply for specialist training under federal sponsorship or Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) and can pursue their Master’s degree, area of special interest or PhD from January 28.

During the unveiling of Budget 2022 in October last year, the government said it will extend, by up to four years, the contracts of more than 10,000 medical, dental, and pharmacy officers after their two-year compulsory service.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, while tabling Budget 2022 in Parliament, said this was intended to “ensure continuity of service and to prepare them for specialist study”.

He added that the government has also allocated RM100 million to sponsor specialist studies for 3,000 contract doctors and dentists.

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