PETALING JAYA: A non-profit medical organisation has called for a review of the contract system for doctors in public hospitals, and the lack of propects for advancement to becoming specialists.
Malaysian Medics International (MMI) voiced concern over the increasing number of doctors every year, and the lack of job placements leading to some medical officers being offered contract positions thus depriving them of becoming specialist doctors.
Dr Vikkineshwaran Siva Subramaniam, chairman of the MMI international board of trustees, said the Education Ministry had allowed medical institutions to mushroom.
“There are 33 medical institutions producing 3,000 doctors every year. We have another 3,000 doctors returning home every year from overseas after completing their education.
“But there are not many jobs to cater for all of them every year,” he told FMT.
At the moment, he said about 9,000 contract doctors are undergoing housemanship of whom 4,000 are now given the position of floating medical doctors.
“Those under contract, even though they do the same job as permanent doctors or medical officers, they earn less and are unable to become specialists,” he said.
The contract positions were first introduced in 2016.
Dr Vikkineshwaran said there were no clear guideliness on who is taken on contract and who are placed as permanent staff.
“Either the government should make all medical officers on contract or permanent staff. Medical officers do the same job, but those on contract earn less and are unable to become specialists doctors,” he said.
He said contract medical officers are placed under the UD41 salary bracket and earn RM3,100 while doctors who are permanent staff earn RM3,700 a month under the UD44 bracket. The allowances are also higher for permanent staff.
During housemanship, they earn RM2,900 a month with allowance of RM600 for on-call duties and another RM500 for those placed in Sabah and Sarawak.
“After housemanship, they are placed on the UD44 grade but those under contract have remained at UD41,” he said. He questioned why the doctors in the two grades could not be paid the same salary.
He said contract medical officers are unable to progress to becoming specialists as they need to hold a permanent medical officer position for three years.
With no new jobs being created, the only openings are those left by retiring staff. “Due to that, the government had created contract staffs as there are no new openings.
“But we do not know the criteria of why some are given contract positions while others are employed on permanent basis,” he said.
He further urged the government to look at the issue as there are too many medical institutions and it was crucial to review the quality of graduates passing the exams.
This includes, those graduating overseas.” They may go to substandard medical institutions like in Russia where the language is different.”
He said an entrance exam should be held before the graduates are offered housemanship to gauge who should be employed in the government hospitals to keep up with the quality.
He also urged Putrajaya to allow contract doctors to do their specialisation after 3 years as the country was in dire need of specialists.
“Imagine in Kuala Lumpur Hospital there are only 10 vascular surgeons and 10 liver and gall blader specialists in Selayang hospital,” he said, citing an example.
He said most specialists move to private hospitals for better pay and a better work-life balance.