KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has given his assurance that the ministry will offer its best solution for contract doctors within his first 100 days as minister, following a peaceful walkout in July.
In a press conference, he said he is currently in discussion with the Treasury and Public Service Department (JPA),
“There are few details that I don’t want to announce yet because we are still in the midst of discussions with the Treasury and JPA, but I hope we will find a good solution to this within the next 100 days,” he said.
On July 26, hundreds of junior doctors and medical officers in several public hospitals nationwide staged a walkout to express dissatisfaction with their current treatment in the government health system.
The move was organised by the group of contract doctors calling itself #HartalDoctorKontrak, which has since vowed a bigger “hartal” or strike should they continue to be sidelined and not given permanent posts.
According to the movement, the problem started when the Ministry of Health implemented a system in 2016 that offered junior doctors contractual positions after finishing their horsemanship — as opposed to the full-time positions offered to their predecessors.
Aside from the reduced pay and benefits even though they work the same hours, the contract doctors are also faced with an inability to further their specialisation as master’s programmes in public universities are reportedly only granted to permanent civil servants.
These problems were further brought to light during the Covid-19 pandemic where doctors are currently being overworked to tend to the sick.
As a temporary solution, on July 23, the Cabinet said it had agreed to appoint medical officers, dental officers and pharmacists by contract for a period of two years once they have completed their compulsory service to ensure continuity of service and preparation for pursuing specialist studies.
The Cabinet also agreed to extend the contractual appointment to a maximum of four years for medical officers and dental officers who are pursuing specialisation studies during the contract period of the first two years.