Over the past six years, nearly 150 medical specialists from the government sector in Malaysia resign from the Health Ministry every year mainly due to lack of prospects for promotion and progress in their career.

According to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya 124 specialists left the public service in 2015, and up to 128 specialists have already resigned in the first nine months this year.

“Their continued departure from the service is one of the factors for the shortage of medical specialists,” he said.

MOH putting out efforts to retain specialists

One of the main reasons for the departure of medical specialists from the public sector was the delay in promotion, according to Hilmi, who added that the highest number of resignations were from specialists on Grade U53 and U54. Specialists on those grades would have to wait for up to 10 years for a promotion.

“That is why we plan to introduce Grade 56, which is being worked out by the Public Service Department,” said Hilmi, who also added that other efforts, such as implementation of the Full Paying Patient (FPP) scheme, have been put forward to address the differences in income between medical specialists in the government and private sectors

The FPP scheme allows patients who are able to afford to opt-in and pay a non government-subsidised fee that is subject to the Full Paying Patient Fee Act 2007. Specialists who are registered under the FPP scheme will receive 60% of the total fee for each medical procedure. However, though the fees are not subsidised, the charges are still lower under the FPP compared to the private sector.

Ideal doctor-patient ratio achievable by 2030, says Hilmi

The issue of the shortage of medical specialists has been frequently discussed of late, but was brought up again in response to MP Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz, who inquired on the severity of the lack of medical specialists in the country and wanted to know if Malaysia would be able to achieve a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:400 by 2020.

According to Hilmi, there are over 4,000 specialists in various fields of specialty under the Ministry of Health (MOH) as of September 2016, adding that the ratio in 2015 was one doctor to every 650 patients.
“In general, regardless on the types of illnesses, we need one doctor to every 520 patients,” he also said.

“Based on evaluation and initial findings, the target ratio of 1:400 is possible to be achieved by 2030,” he added, reassuring that the government is committed in increasing the number of doctors in the country for provision of quality healthcare to the public. MIMS

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