The current issue of transferring newly appointed permanent medical officers (MOs) has gathered lots of attention, with the majority of transfers to East Malaysia.
In my opinion, the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not discuss or do proper assessment of their plan prior to implementing it. They came up with an idea, made a plan, and enforced it without considering many factors.
Later, the Ministry will have to face the backlash of the outcome and find ways to solve it.
It is simple logic that the eHO method of posting for permanent MOs won’t work.
The reason is that house officers (HOs) are fresh graduates without many commitments. As such, they can be posted to any hospital where services are required and appropriate teaching is available, whereas MOs are experienced in the posting in which they are already serving as contract doctors – be it medicine, surgery, or obstetrics etc.
These fields of medicine require at least six months to train doctors to be functional and to sustain their highly skilled work.
There are also some MOs who are already pursuing their postgraduate programmes. Besides, some MOs might have married and have their own families and commitments to manage.
In fact, the current generation of doctors has to go through at least four transfers: one as a HO, then as a floating MO, then as a contract MO, and then as a permanent MO.
It doesn’t end there, as one may be transferred again for their postgraduate studies and upon completion for specialisation.
I wonder. A Ministry – which is supposed to show compassion towards the people it serves – has it shown its compassion towards these MOs?
Well, the high-ranking administrative officers of the Ministry rarely look into the welfare of staff, other than fulfilling the wishes of politicians.
A simple deduction – if Sabah or Sarawak requires 2,000 doctors, it doesn’t mean we should blindly post most of the doctors there. In fact, it is a longstanding problem faced by the current government that has been overlooked and passed on from past governments.
In reality, a staggered approach of increasing the number of doctors in East Malaysia should be done over three to four years. This will ensure that the required amount of medical officers in each state will be fulfilled over time.
In that way, we can avoid a shortage of trained doctors in peninsular Malaysia and prevent sudden service disruptions due to the abrupt transfer of MOs by sheer luck of eHO online applications.
All in all, we should have a holistic approach in the transfer of MOs. In order to get things in line, there should be an officer of caliber in the Ministry to advise our newly minted hardworking minister to ensure that we get a good solution to the current issue.
Dr Kanika is a pseudonym; the author is a senior consultant surgeon from a hospital in the North.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.