Contract doctors told to pay for their own specialisation

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By Emma Victoria

ALL contract medical officers have been told to pay on their own for specialisation studies abroad as they are currently ineligible for a government scholarship.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said this showed a lack of interest by the Health Ministry to properly address this issue and to offer a fair deal to these contract medical officers.

Saddened that the Health Ministry and Minister Dr Adham Baba had made this decision, Dr Yii said this also opens up the question on the selection criteria of permanent posts for these medical officers — whether those selected for permanent posts are considered better and more competent compared to those under contract.

“This calls the need for the whole selection to be more transparent so that there is not only greater certainty in selection, but also to remove any “perception” of favouritism, bias, or even discrimination in selection.

“If not, it will be viewed as a form of discrimination to those under contract as we are limiting their opportunities to further their training and obtain specialisation. Fact of the matter is, maybe not all the 23,928 permanent medical officers have the intention to further their training and specialise.

“We must ensure that for the growth of our health care system, everyone who is eligible, competent and, most importantly, interested and committed to be trained as specialists to be given that opportunity, even those under contract,” he said in a statement.

He said it was merely a policy decision by the Health Ministry, Public Services Department (JPA) and also the Higher Education Ministry to allow such opportunities to be given to all the medical officers.

“The call for them to pay for their specialisation programmes will not solve the problem because in many cases, their contract duration is not long enough to complete the full programme, get the needed training, as well as to be gazetted by the Director General.”

“Unless they are given an extended contract, even if they pay themselves, it is insufficient.”

“That is why I call upon the Health Ministry to dice a fairer deal for these young doctors, give them an opportunity to apply for specialisation, and offer them permanent posting upon completion to address the lack of specialists, especially in Sabah and Sarawak,” he stressed.

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