Tuaran MP Highlights ‘The Great Resignation’ Of Doctors

Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau says the contract system in the public health service, worsened by overwork, has caused The Great Resignation of doctors, with Sabah experiencing an all-time record high of doctors quitting the service.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 – Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau yesterday questioned the sustainability of the contract system in the health service, amid rising numbers of doctors quitting the public sector.

The government backbencher from Sabah-based party Upko also asked Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa about the government’s plan to reduce the disparity in the ratio of specialists, doctors, dentists, nurses, medical laboratory technologists (JTMP), and physiotherapists between national and Sabah. 

“What about the contract system for appointments across multiple categories in our health care system? Is this system sustainable?” Madius said in his debate at the committee stage of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) 2023 budget in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“Is the government aware that that system has caused The Great Resignation, worsened by overwork or excessive workloads, leading to all-time record [high] resignations among doctors in the territory of Sabah?

“Further, the issue of placements of non-Sabahans to serve in Sabah continues to persist.”

More contract doctors nationwide quit the public health service in 2022 at 1,354 resignations than in the previous two years of 2020 and 2021 combined at 1,279 resignations.

MOH has not published statistics on resignation trends among various health care professionals, including doctors, in permanent service, or by state. 

Madius also asked the health minister if the contracts of JTMPs in the public health service would be extended after their scheduled expiry in April and July this year. 

The Tuaran MP pointed out that contract staff comprised 45 per cent of JTMPs in Tuaran Hospital, half in Klinik Kesihatan Ibu Anak Tuaran, half in Klinik Kesihatan Tenghilan, and 60 per cent in Klinik Kesihatan Tamparuli. 

“This is why devolution of health is the way forward,” he said, reminding the federal government to heed Sabah MPs’ views to place health in the concurrent list of the Federal Constitution.

Health is currently under federal jurisdiction. State health departments are under the purview of MOH Putrajaya.

“With this, the federal government, together with the Sabah and Sarawak governments, can collaborate, as per the participation and contribution of Sabah to health infrastructure during the Covid pandemic.”

As a short-term plan, Madius told the federal government to place trust and responsibility in health care professionals serving in Sabah to plan human resources, equipment, and infrastructure in the health sector in the territory.

The Tuaran MP also called for prioritised approval of upgrades for Klinik Kesihatan Tamparuli’s pathology laboratory this year, saying that pathology lab test services in the public health clinic are currently rather limited due to a small working space that is unable to place an analyser machine.

“Klinik Kesihatan Tamparuli has four family medicine specialists (FMS) and is a referral centre for patients in Tuaran. The patient load rises daily, along with the need for support services like the public health clinic’s pathology lab,” Madius said.

“In the treatment of patients, the FMS of course need quick pathology lab results and a bigger variety of tests.”

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