PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has agreed to establish an inter-ministerial committee to look into issues related to contract doctors, says health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Admitting that the issue of contract doctors had become a “hot topic” on mainstream and social media, Zaliha said the problem stemmed from an oversupply of new medical graduates annually, adding this made it difficult for all of them to be absorbed into permanent posts.
Zaliha said the health ministry is aware of issues facing contract doctors and is looking for solutions based on the country’s economic capabilities. However, she did not elaborate on what issues she was referring to.
She said the health ministry has looked to resolve issues related to contract doctors by creating permanent positions, sponsoring specialist or advanced training, approving time-based promotions, promotions to special grades, and creating the UD56 grade for medical specialists.
Referring to a group of government doctors who are planning a nationwide strike from April 3 to 5, Zahila said such a move “is not the best solution” to their plight.
“This matter needs to be looked at carefully,” she said, adding that the issues they are raising should be addressed in a “more professional and prudent” manner.
“This is because healthcare is a critical service as it involves human life and the public’s well-being.”
The group, Mogok Doktor Malaysia (Malaysian Doctors on Strike), previously said more than 8,000 contract doctors will go on strike from April 3 to 5 by taking medical/emergency leave as a protest against the “unfair system and low wages” in the public healthcare sector.
The group also warned that there will be 3,000 contract doctors resigning from the health ministry on April 1.
Apart from the absorption of all contract doctors to permanent positions without any conditions or interview, the group is pushing for an increase in the basic salary and on-call rates for medical specialists and medical officers.
The group also wants the health ministry to resolve the issue of lack of specialists, medical officers and graduate medical officers immediately.
It also wants a reduction in on-call and work hours for medical officers and house officers. It said on-call hours should not exceed six times a month, with working hours to be capped at 60 hours a week.