In November 2016, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said that a majority of resignations came from medical specialists of Grade U53 and U54, as they had to wait for up to 10 years for a promotion.
“Most of those who resigned were medical specialists of Grade UD54 and above, who have a lot of experience and are highly skilled. It is a big loss for us,” said Dr Subramaniam in a press conference in Putrajaya, on 10 January.
Although it was quite difficult for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to match the salaries offered to medical specialists in the private sector, Dr Subramaniam said the government tried to narrow the gap by introducing flexible working hours for medical specialists as announced in the 2018 Budget.
Incentives to retain medical specialists in government sectorFrom 1 January 2018, medical specialists at government hospitals are given one day a week from their official working hours to supplement their income through the three options listed by the ministry, said Dr Subramaniam.
The options include conducting industry-sponsored medical research through Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM); lecturing for medical students at public or private higher education institutions; or working in the private sector, taking into account certain conditions including insurance cost.
“It will also help increase the number of specialists doing research work and will encourage transfer of knowledge to trainees in the medical sector.
“Such a move will motivate these medical specialists and allow them to perform better and remain in government service,” said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
To be eligible, the medical specialist must be of Grade UD54 and above, registered with the National Specialist Register as provided under the Medical Act 1971, have professional indemnity coverage and served the MOH for a minimum of 12 years. Accumulation of any unused days or carrying forward these days to the following month is not permitted.
“Department heads will also be authorised to revoke permission given to the specialists at any time and they would not have to provide a reason for doing so,” he said, adding that the decision of the department head could not be challenged. The approval given by department heads would be valid for a year.
Apart from that, the implementation of the Full Paying Patient (FPP) in some government hospitals scheme has been put forward to address the income disparity. Specialists who are registered under the FPP scheme will receive 60% of the total fee for each medical procedure.
Efforts to produce more medical specialistsDr Subramaniam assured that MOH is trying to produce more medical specialists through parallel programmes and post-graduate medical programmes at the public universities.
“As of Dec 31, a total of 950 medical officers participating in the specialist training via the parallel programmes are registered with the Medical Development Division according to their expertise,” he said.
Currently, there are 4,460 medical specialists serving with MOH, with several subspecialties such as cardiology, neurosurgery and nephrology still experiencing shortage of specialists, he added.
Each year, MOH produces about 1,000 medical specialists in over 30 subspecialties replacing those who retire or resign, and to meet the shortage of lecturers at higher education institutions. MIMS
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