PETALING JAYA: In an attempt to stem the brain drain among medical doctors from public service to the private sector, the government has given its senior medical officers and specialists leeway to take an extra day off from work every week.
However, the day must be used to conduct an activity approved by the government in accordance with specified guidelines.
The ruling, applicable for doctors categorised under the health ministry’s UD54 grade for medical professionals, was put into effect on Jan 1.
It was announced in a circular from Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on Dec 6 last year.
Noor Hisham said the doctors would be allowed to undertake medical research or conduct teaching in the ministry’s facilities, or take on work in the private sector, during the extra day off from regular work.
This is in addition to the two days off they are already given every week.
“The implementation of the flexible working hours can narrow the income gap between government medical specialists and those in the private sector, increase the number of researchers in the fields of medicine and health, while also enhance knowledge transfer to medical and health trainees in various educational fields,” Noor Hisham said.
He added that it would also heighten the officers’ performance and motivation, and help maintain their services with the government.
It is understood the UD54 grade covers specialists who have been in government service for nine years and non-specialists who have been working there for 12 years.
On Oct 27, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the leeway for the doctors in his speech when tabling Budget 2018 at the Dewan Rakyat, but did not disclose details.
In March last year, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam said the government was looking into allowing the doctors to do private practice to help them earn some extra income.
He said this was due to the “brain drain” caused by the massive gap in wages between government doctors and private doctors, which mainly affected specialists rather than general practitioners (GP).