KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 – Doctor groups reacted furiously today towards the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) statement defending the current rate of on-call allowances for medical officers.
Both the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) characterised certain remarks in MOH’s statement issued earlier today as false, including the claim that UD52 specialist doctors earn more than RM17,000 a month.
“Government doctors deserve fair compensation for their efforts in increasing the quality of health services. ‘Misinformation’ in the MOH’s latest letter is unacceptable,” MMA tweeted today.
“MMA asks @KKMPutrajaya to retract the letter,” added the largest doctors’ association in the country, tagging the MOH’s official Twitter account.
HDK pointed out that no contract medical officer earns as much as RM17,000 a month.
The contract doctors’ group also pointed out that the RM220 allowance for active on-call duty on weekends and public holidays for medical officers translates to RM9.16 per hour, as working hours on such days are 24 hours’ long, and not 15 hours as claimed by the MOH. The 15-hour on-call duty actually applies to weekdays.
“If this is the level of understanding among top MOH officials, then Dr Zaliha Mustafa has a big problem. Her own officers do not know the situation on the ground,” HDK tweeted in a series of tweets, referring to the health minister.
“They wrote a long explanation, complete with sentences in ‘bold’, but it’s wrong and confusing. Wasted. Retract it, MOH. Just put a ‘fake’ chop.”
MOH’s statement – which was issued simply under the MOH, instead of the health minister’s name – said that it was “inaccurate” to calculate the RM220 payment for active on-calls on weekends and public holidays as RM9.16 per hour across 24 hours, as the on-call allowance is paid based on 15 hours per day.
The MOH also gave an example of a UD52 specialist doctor who supposedly earns RM17,299 monthly (base salary plus fixed allowances) that translates to RM576.63 per day. Combined with the RM250 on-call allowance, the MOH said this amounted to an RM826.63 daily wage.
The MOH’s statement today addressing medical officers’ on-call allowances came four months after Dr Zaliha’s town hall with doctors last February.
At the February town hall, MMA had demanded for a 178 per cent increase in doctors’ weekend on-call claims to RM25 per hour from the current hourly RM9 rate, pointing out that counterparts in Singapore are paid RM60 hourly.
However, the MOH today, despite acknowledging that the on-call allowance for medical officers was raised more than a decade ago in 2012, maintained that salaries and fixed allowances for civil servants, including medical officers, are based on monthly and not hourly rates.
The MOH also said emoluments and other allowances for civil servants are based on the principles of rate for the job and parity, besides taking into account current fiscal capacity.