KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it supports an independent housemen recruitment process for university hospitals free from MOH control.
The Medicine Department at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) previously suggested a separate process for recruiting and appointing house officers (HO) to decrease reliance on MOH for manpower of junior doctors.
This suggestion came after the Department of Medicine at the quaternary hospital in the Klang Valley proposed adopting a “Zero HO Protocol” to operate under the assumption that it no longer has HO services, due to a dire shortage of trainee doctors.
“At the same time, we welcome the proposal from university hospitals (HPU) to handle their own recruitment of house officers and appoint them permanently, independently of the MOH.
“Planning and discussions must be undertaken to ensure a smooth implementation,” MOH said in a January 21 statement that was sent to CodeBlue today.
MOH’s statement was issued in response to the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) demand for an explanation from the MOH on housemen shortages in the country.
In the two-page statement, MOH acknowledged the “declining trend” in the intake of house officers in hospitals recognised for medical graduate training. The ministry said factors contributing to this included the suspension of medical education due to the Covid-19 pandemic since early 2020.
“Due to a decreased intake of housemen, the MOH must allocate placements selectively and cannot place them in all of MOH’s teaching hospitals (HLS). MOH will ensure each hospital receives sufficient house officers for training needs.
“House officers are trainees requiring monitoring. They are not additional staff for tasks performed by certified medical officers,” MOH said.
In additional comments, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad openly told CodeBlue that housemen placement priority is for Hospital Latihan Siswazah (HLS) in the MOH.
“Priority is to make sure that whichever HLS that we give, they would have enough critical mass to get down with work. Meaning, there will be HLS that will not be getting house officers too. If HLS are not getting HOs, what more HPU.
“We don’t want to spread them thinly that it becomes meaningless — still having to do [extra] shifts and be overburdened by a neither here nor there kind of numbers. Priority is HLS, and not HPU.”
MOH highlighted its success in shortening the placement process for medical graduate trainees from nearly two years to just two months, starting with candidates with provisional registration under the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and approved appointments by the Public Services Commission (SPA).
MOH clarified that house officers’ placement depends entirely on graduates’ career choices.
“MOH will allocate an appropriate number to HLS in MOH hospitals and also university teaching hospitals (HPU),” said the ministry in its statement.
As implemented last year, the contract intake of house officers continues six times a year, every two months. The first cohort selection for this year is scheduled for January 23, 2024.
Reporting for the Mind Transformation Program is scheduled for February 26. On this matter, MOH will continue to open slots for medical graduate training placements in public university teaching hospitals.
In a discussion session with MMA on January 3, MOH also informed about initiatives to encourage medical graduates to register with the MMC and the SPA.
MMA, representing a significant portion of medical practitioners in Malaysia, was also advised to intensify campaigns and promotions to encourage medical graduates to register with MMC and SPA and to serve within the country, whether in public service or the private sector.