PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has been asked to clarify its offer of higher wages for medical specialists, which it hopes will attract and retain them in the public health system.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Koh Kar Chai said they wanted to know how the government planned to implement the salary hikes and also if the offer was only for a select few, or across the board for all specialists.
At the Dewan Rakyat last week, deputy health minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the ministry would be offering salaries of up to RM37,000 a month for high-ranking medical specialists, although he did not specify which pay grades these specialists were currently on.
He also said medical specialists in Grade UD53, UD54, UD55 and UD56 positions could earn up to RM21,000 a month in wages and allowances.
Currently, medical specialists in Grades UD53 and UD54 can earn up to RM13,256 while those in Grades UD55 and UD56 can make up to RM14,063.
“More clarity is needed as RM37,000 is what a senior public sector key position (JUSA) A may earn as a monthly salary. That is, of course, with allowances,” Koh told FMT.
“We would like to know how the ministry plans to execute this drastic increase in remuneration seeing that over 22,000 contract medical officers are still without permanent positions.
“There has been no recent increase in the number of JUSA posts. At the same time, there has been a lack of clarity in the selection criteria for JUSA posts as has been mentioned in the past.”
Koh said that although MMA looked forward to the improvements in remuneration and welfare benefits for specialists, the ministry should have realistic, sustainable and egalitarian plans to retain such specialists in public service.
He said that offering higher wages and allowances was one way to attract and retain medical specialists, especially as the last pay scale revision was more than seven years ago.
However, he pointed out that free specialist care for all doctors’ parents and their children, interest-free housing or car loans and scholarships for their children were also among some of the perks the government could look into.
He also highlighted the discrepancy in pay between the government and private sector, noting that the private sector pays about three to four times higher, “if not more”.
“If the perks are not attractive enough in government service, healthcare workers will jump at the slightest opportunity for better pay and career prospects in the private sector.”
In September, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia needed 28,000 medical specialists by 2030, adding that the shortage of such specialists had led to longer waiting times for those needing specialist treatment.
FMT has reached out to an aide to Noor Azmi for clarifications about medical specialists’ pay scales.