The Ministry of Health has started offering jobs on contract basis, as announced in Budget 2017, and has further plans to employ 9,300 candidates this year –six batches of intakes with 5,425 posts for house officers, three intakes with 1,921 posts for dental officers, and four batches involving 1,954 pharmacy candidates.

According to Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min, competent employees who fulfill specific requirements will be offered permanent positions, but may not receive them immediately until vacancies are available, adding that 1,219 candidates have been offered contracts by the Public Service Department (PSD) since last month.

Permanent jobs only to those who are competent

“Permanent appointments will be based on their merit during housemanship training and recommendation by the Health director-general,” said Chen.

He explained that upon successful completion of housemanship within three years of contract, competent medical candidates – who must achieve at least 85% in the yearly performance review – will be offered an additional two-year contract for compulsory service as medical officers.

Dentists do not have compulsory internship, but candidates will serve a one year compulsory service with a maximum contract for three years.

As for pharmacists, candidates will serve as provisionally registered pharmacists (PRP) for one year, with a maximum contract for two years, after which a maximum contract for one year compulsory service will be offered.

“The problem is, we cannot be promoted to permanent officers posts until we complete the three-year contract and a vacancy is available, while my seniors who were taken in as permanent officers were promoted yearly,” said Koh, a dentist from the first batch of candidates to be employed on contract.

“Even for the better performing staff, they have to wait for a vacancy because there are too many of us.”

According to Chen, those who do not receive an offer for permanent posts upon completion of their compulsory services can opt to apply for positions in university or military hospitals, as well as the private sector.

House officers under contract will receive a basic monthly salary of RM2,947, which is the same as those in category UD 41 of the permanent service. Meanwhile, dentists will receive RM 2,844 a month, equivalent to grade UG41, and pharmacists will receive RM2,740 a month as per grade UF41.

House officers will enjoy the same benefits as received by permanent house officers such as full-pay medical leave of up to 90 days, as well as the coverage of medical treatment for parents in government health facilities, said Chen.

However, those under contract are not eligible to apply for government housing loans.

Build more hospitals to open up vacancies, says MMA president

“Only the best will get the job, so this is of course, good for the patient,” said Malaysian Medical Association president Dr John Chew, explaining that the contract term will push house officers to perform better.

However, he added that the crux of the problem lies in insufficient posts for medical officers. Though contract jobs are meant to address the long wait, Chew said that the training hospitals are unable to cope with the volume of medical graduates as there are too many, from both local universities and abroad.

Quoting Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya, he added that there are only 1.35 beds per 1,000 population in the country, and has yet to achieve the adequate 2.5.

“We are not spending enough on healthcare,” Chew also said.

“While it will not affect patient care – once a doctor has a patient in front of him or her, it does not matter how he or she is paid – there is a need to create more posts as already crowded hospitals are being squeezed.”

According to Chew, the policy of opening new job posts is determined by the PSD, manpower planning as well as the country’s financial ability and population needs. If new hospitals are built, he posited, the PSD may consider opening new posts for medical officers.

“We are doing our best to serve the healthcare needs of the people,” he said.

“For long term sustainability, the ministry must continue to be efficient in using available resources and reduce wastage.” MIMS

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