After strike, docs return to work for their patients, not bosses

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Many of the government contract doctors who participated in this morning’s strike have returned to their workstation to continue with patient care.

They include those who are attached to the Sungai Buloh Hospital and Covid-19 quarantine and low-risk treatment centre (PKRC) at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (Maeps), which are the main Health Ministry facilities that treat Covid-19 positive patients.

This was confirmed by the organiser of the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) movement this afternoon.

“Yes, most of the doctors who participated in this hartal have returned to work soon after the protest was done,” said an HDK representative.

The movement had last week outlined procedures to ensure that the care of hospital patients will not be jeopardised in any way.

According to the spokesperson, HDK estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 doctors had participated in the strike at various hospitals nationwide.

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Meanwhile, several medical officers who protested today said that they returned to work because they do not want patients to be neglected.

The doctors in their late 20s said that while they want to fight for a better future and job security, they value their patients more than anything else.

“Why did I go back to work? Because our priority is our patients, of course. We always put our patients first,” said a Sungai Buloh Hospital doctor when contacted.

According to the doctors, participants at Sungai Buloh Hospital also had to divide themselves into two groups and took turns to do their walkout protest.

This was to ensure that there were enough medical officers inside the hospital while they did their strike, he said.

“I spent about 15 or 20 minutes on the walkout. I was part of the second group. After that, all of us went back in to continue work as there are not enough doctors,” he said.

Another medical officer, who was a part of a silent protest in Maeps, said there were around 100 of them ready to do a walkout this morning.

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According to her, they had already made arrangements with senior doctors and colleagues who are on permanent employment to be on duty while they protest.

However, their plan was stopped short when the facility director threatened to get them arrested by police if the group was to proceed.

“The walkout was supposed to happen. Our specialists and consultants were already inside, on standby (to take over).

“However, the director barred us from participating. So, what we did was to show solidarity by holding placards and taking photos and putting them on social media before returning to work,” said the doctor, who had been on contract employment for more than three years.

She stressed that the only reason that they continued to soldier on was their patients.

“Whatever we are doing now is never about our bosses anymore. It is about our patients.

“Frankly speaking, the situation with our superiors has been really disappointing,” she said.