Contract doctors are quitting with 24 hours’ notice due to exhaustion and frustration over the government’s lack of action on their plight, the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group said.
On Twitter, the group shared screenshots from contract doctors who have decided to throw in the towel as Malaysia continues to grapple with an increased number of Covid-19 cases.
“Doctors are resigning with 24 hours’ notice. Simply too tired and can’t take it anymore,” the group tweeted, along with a screen shot that suggests senior doctors are ignoring juniors who have decided to resign.
The group previously warned they would go on strike if Putrajaya does not resolve the issue of contract medical officers (MOs) not being offered permanent positions in the civil service within the next three weeks.
The strike is expected to take place on July 26 and the government has been given time until then to come up with a solution.
Health Ministry data revealed a total of 23,077 UD41 contract medical officers were picked to undergo graduate training and compulsory service between December 2016 and May 31, 2021.
However, only 789 of them were offered permanent positions, leaving many in limbo while many others have applied for jobs overseas.
The group added that Putrajaya’s treatment of contract doctors as “disposable” is the reason why the country’s healthcare is crippled.
“We are running out of time. Doctors are leaving. But they are silent and covering things up,” it tweeted along with the resignation letter of a doctor who was serving at the emergency and trauma department of Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang.
It is not known how many contract doctors have resigned after giving 24 hours’ notice.
In support of the plight of contract doctors, The Malaysian Medical Association’s Section Concerning House Officers, Medical Officers and Specialists’ (Schomos) had organised the “Code Black” campaign, which ran from July 1 to July 12, culminating in “Black Monday” on July 12.
The campaign urged doctors to go to work as usual and told them to wear black on July 12. They were also urged to hold a placard saying, “We stand with contract healthcare workers” and post pictures on social media with the hashtags #saveMYcontractHCW, #CodeBlackMY and #BlackMondayMY only.
Last week, MMA said that the contract doctor issue would be discussed at last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting but, so far, no decision has been made on their employment status.
MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy, however, said that he did not condone the hartal strike though he was sympathetic towards the plight of contract doctors.
The hartal group also had questioned why the MMA and Schomos have kept silent since the end of the Code Black campaign on July 12.
“MMA & SCHOMOS have been silent since 12 July. Black Monday was to mourn for the MMA SCHOMOS when they realise how little they are heard of. Nothing more.”
The contract doctor system was first introduced in 2016 as an initial solution to the delayed placement of house officers.
Upon joining government service, the junior doctors are given a five-year contract package that consists of a three-year contract with an option of a two-year extension.
In recent weeks, contract doctors had urged the ministry to absorb them into permanent service.
On June 30, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba had said the contract doctors’ demands would be discussed at a cabinet meeting ahead of the planned strike on July 26.
He said a cabinet paper that included demands submitted to improve the existing contract scheme for government doctors, dentists, and pharmacists was being prepared and would be presented in a Cabinet meeting, but he did not specify a date.
As a result, the Health Ministry issued a circular stating existing contract doctors would be offered reappointment on a contract basis as medical officers from December 5, 2021, to December 4, 2022. They are now being rerouted to the Covid-19 critical healthcare facilities. – TMI