PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr N Ganabaskaran today called for permanent positions for more healthcare workers to meet the country’s growing healthcare needs.
Expressing hope that the government would lift the moratorium on new positions for the health ministry, he said the issue of contract workers now extended to all levels of healthcare workers.
“We need permanent positions. The growth projections of the population must be met with a concomitant increase in permanent positions to meet healthcare needs,” he said.
“It is hoped that now that we are in the recovery phase of the Covid-19 situation, the government will look into addressing these issues,” he said, adding that the pandemic was a painful lesson on the need to prioritise healthcare.
Ganabaskaran said about 3,500 junior doctors from two cohorts might not get permanent positions in government healthcare facilities at the end of their two years’ of compulsory service.
He noted that a significant number of them were currently serving as frontliners in the fight against Covid-19.
He said about 1,500 housemen received their contract for two-year compulsory government service on Grade UD41 in March, without any extension. These contract medical officers (MOs) do not enjoy the same benefits or pay as their UD43 permanent counterparts despite having the same designation.
While the difference in annual salary amounts to about RM4,000 per year, Ganabaskaran said he was more worried about the uncertainty these contract medical officers were facing.
“Where will they go when they complete their contracted two years’ of compulsory service? There are no permanent positions to serve as MOs in government healthcare facilities.
“They can’t join local university master’s programmes for specialisation as they are not given full-pay study leave.
“If they opt for the parallel pathway for specialisation, they will need four years’ training after housemanship, which again is impossible with the short-term contract,” he added.
Ganabaskaran said MMA had sent a proposal to the government to extend the contract for medical officers up to 10 years (UD43/44 for two years and UD 47/48 for eight years), with a UD54 grade offered if they qualified as a specialist and a five-year bond at the end to improve access to specialist services for Malaysians.
Alternatively, MMA has proposed that a permanent medical post be offered, with EPF, to ensure these junior doctors would get a “fair chance” to continue their service.
Apart from recently writing to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Ganabaskaran said MMA had also met Health Minister Dr Adham Baba and Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali to discuss the issue.
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