MOH Must Respond To Several Junior Doctors’ Issues – MMA

MMA wants MOH to respond to several issues faced by junior doctors, namely the placement selection system, relocation affecting future specialists, unnecessary HLP bond, transparent selection criteria, clear promotion pathway, and ignored contract service.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is concerned with the recent issues faced by medical officers with regard to the eHouseman (eHO) placement. 

For context, contract medical officers receiving offers to become permanent medical officers were required to choose their placements through the eHO portal. However, following its implementation, we have received much feedback from junior doctors who were affected. 

The issues are:

Challenging Placement Selection System

Doctors had difficulty accessing the eHO portal, with delays and system crashes affecting the application process of all involved.

The placement selection was supposed to be carried out through a first-come-first-served basis, with the doctors being divided into several selection phases.

However, not every option concerning states and medical facilities were made available in each of the selection phases, leading to an unfair and partly luck-based system.

Relocation Affecting Future Specialists

Doctors who are enrolled in the Masters or parallel pathway programme, and recently offered permanent posts, were made to relocate too. This has affected them, as their training necessitates them to be located at specific facilities.

While the candidates have been informed that they need to write in to inform of their status, after which they will be allowed to stay, this is an unnecessary extra step that shows that the Public Service Department (JPA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) are not communicating adequately. We hope this will change. 

Besides the new issues mentioned above, MMA has also raised the following issues previously, but have yet to receive satisfactory answers. 

Unnecessary HLP Bond

The Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) bond for those who are paying for the parallel pathway is unnecessary, and should not take place. 

Many housemen are financing their own studies and training out of their pockets. The decision to shoehorn all parallel pathway trainees into applying for the HLP and bonding them, despite minimal sponsorship from the government, may be construed as exploitative and unfair.

Transparent Selection Criteria

MMA has been asking for a more transparent and fair selection criteria for permanent medical officers. We have even drafted a list of selection criteria based on feedback of our members and the medical fraternity.

However, there has been no response from the MOH to date. 

Spell Out Clear Promotion Pathway 

For doctors who remain on contract, the JPA must come out with clear answers on when and if they will get promotion to UD47 status. The current status quo is unfair, as with each contract renewal, medical officers remain as UD43 with stagnant pay scales and increments, disregarding their experience and years of service for the government (some have more than five to six years of service under their belt).

JPA has to also take into account contract medical officers completing their parallel pathway examinations and entering their specialist gazettement phase.

A clear pathway absorbing these doctors into permanent service as specialists must be announced, as many of these doctors are imminently, and will be, approaching this stage of their career.

Contract Service Ignored

Similarly, for medical officers who have received permanent status, JPA must consider their existing duration and years of service as a contract medical officer in their promotion timeline, instead of resetting them as ‘fresh’ UD43 despite more than five years of service under their belt. 

MMA seeks appropriate action from the relevant authorities. 

Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.

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