Doctors are also leaving for better opportunities abroad out of frustration with the system.
A lack of permanent positions, transparency in criteria for positions and promotions, the contract system, and a toxic work environment are also reasons for brain drain, besides better pay.
While we may not be able to compete with salaries being offered in countries like Singapore, which enjoys a stronger currency now, we can take immediate steps to improve the work environment and work culture and provide a work life balance for our junior doctors, which is currently non-existent.
The Health Ministry can also be more committed towards eradicating the culture of bullying that has taken root in the health care system over the years and contributed to a toxic work environment.
Working in government hospitals or clinics is, by itself, an already highly stressful environment due to the high patient count and the responsibility of being entrusted with an equally high level of care for all.
The last thing the junior doctors will want is their own team members giving them a hard time.
We sincerely hope that the newly minted health minister will go all out to wipe out bullying among health care workers. This will be among issues we will bring up in our meeting with the health minister tomorrow.
There is also a lack of transparency in the selection criteria for permanent positions and promotions. This is also fuelling the frustration felt among many health care workers; enough for them to start considering other options abroad.
Positions and promotions should be given based on merit.
As the White Paper for health reforms is being drawn up, we hope that these important issues will be addressed as human capital is our most precious resource.
It needs to be noted again that we are facing shortages in specialists. Many current specialists will retire soon or leave to private health care and this will create more gaps in the public health care system.
Many of our junior doctors will be our specialists in the future so let’s support them and do all we can to give them a future here in the country. After all, it will be for our benefit.
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.