Dr Dzul: Loyalty, Patriotism Biggest Retention Factors For Doctors In Public Service

Dr Dzul says loyalty and patriotism are the biggest employee retention factors for doctors in the public sector, singling out senior consultant doctors in Selayang Hospital who chose to stay, despite govt hospitals lacking treatment like Gamma Knife surgery.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 – Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad today described the values of loyalty and patriotism as the most important employee retention factors for doctors in the public health service.

Dzulkefly expressed deep pride with senior consultant doctors in Selayang Hospital, which he visited recently, who chose to stay in public service, despite government hospitals lacking treatment found in private hospitals like Gamma Knife surgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a type of radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

“The greatest asset is human resource – the specialists who are still with us despite obstacles, and against all odds,” Dzulkefly told the Dewan Rakyat today during Question Time.

“For our young medical officers, loyalty, patriotism, and service for the people in the public health service are the main factors retaining them.”

The health minister was responding to Kuala Nerus MP Dr Alias Razak’s question on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) short-term and long-term plans to retain medical graduates in the public health service, ahead of the potential abolition of the civil servants’ pension scheme that Dr Alias claimed would happen in 2025.

Dzulkefly clarified that the government is currently doing a review of the retirement scheme for civil servants (SSPA) that would only be finalised by year end.

He also said the government is currently reviewing the on-call allowance for medical officers, who have long demanded for a raise to the RM9 hourly rate for weekends that has not been changed since 2012. 

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) previously proposed a 178 per cent increase in doctors’ weekend on-call claims to RM25 per hour from the current hourly RM9 rate.

In Parliament today, Dzulkefly also pointed out that the starting salary for UD41 contract medical officers, after completing housemanship, is RM5,197 monthly, which he described was “much higher” than other service schemes, including PTDs (pegawai tadbir dan diplomatik).

According to the health minister, 9,822 permanent appointments of medical officers were made from 2019 to 2023. The MOH expects to increase this to 6,000 permanent appointments this year.

Dzulkefly cited the reasons given by 1,696 medical officers for quitting public service in 2022: offers to work in the private sector or statutory bodies (54 per cent), personal reasons (28 per cent), offers to work in public universities (6 per cent), work overseas (4.5 per cent), further study (2.7 per cent), and opening own clinic (0.8 per cent).

“We’re aware of this, therefore we will continue to retain them in the public health care system; we provide good remuneration and incentives.”

He also highlighted his main objectives of setting up a national electronic medical records (EMR) system and reforming health care financing in the current 15th parliamentary term.

“I will strengthen public-private partnership so that even though they (doctors) leave us, it will not necessarily be a loss to the public service.”

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