Offer contract doctors a fairer deal, DAP tells Government

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

By John Isaac

DAP today urged the Ministry of Health to make transparent the selection criteria used for the permanent posting of contract healthcare workers.

It must also announce concrete plans to resolve the long-standing contract issues among health care workers around the country, including proper distributions and placements in places of urgent need, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

“I send my utmost congratulations to the new 203, UD43 Contract Medical Officers from the 3rd cohort 2017 batch who were recently offered permanent postings and will be posted throughout the country to serve starting Aug 2, 2021. I wish them all the best in their service to our people and country,” said Bandar Kuching MP, Dr Kelvin Yii.

However, he said the core issues when it comes to transparency and clarity in selection criteria are still not addressed.

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

“If the criteria is more transparent and ‘certain’, then junior doctors can be better prepared and know for certain what they need to work for to achieve their target in obtaining a permanent posting.

“This may resolve a lot of the uneasiness and feelings of being under-appreciated that they are facing now,” he said.

Dr Kelvin also questioned the Ministry of Health and Public Services Department (JPA), why none of the 203 in the current batch that were offered permanent postings, were Sarawakians though 102 of the 203 were asked to report for duty in hospitals in Sarawak?

Dr Kelvin

“Over the years, many West Malaysian doctors have been transferred to Sarawak and though they were dedicated and diligent in serving in Sarawak, in most cases, these arrangements were not permanent.

“Eventually they are transferred back to their home states after their two-year compulsory service with the government, whether to be closer to their family back home or other legitimate reasons.

“That is why since then, I have urged the Ministry to prioritise Sarawakians when making the new offers, especially if they are to eventually be posted in Sarawak to address the urgent needs of doctors here in the state, especially in the rural areas on a long-term basis,” he stressed.

He pointed out that there are still many Sarawakian doctors or even health care workers serving in the State even in the rural areas but yet to be offered a permanent posting.

“This may seem unfair to them especially those that are willing to serve and fill the urgent need of healthcare workers even in the rural areas.

“That is why I question and call upon the Deputy Health Minister II YB Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang to address this issue and as a Sarawakian himself, he should have known better the urgent needs for more healthcare workers in Sarawak on a long-term basis, especially in the rural areas,”

Dr Kelvin echoed calls for the government to offer a fairer deal to these contract workers.

“The best way we can appreciate our medical frontliners, especially for their service to our country during this pandemic, is to invest in them and give them better security of tenure and of course a chance for them to further specialise in their desired Master’s Programme under the government’s Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP)

“This is, of course, in line with the efforts by the government and hospitals to produce more specialists to address the lack of them nationwide and to improve the quality of healthcare for our patients,”.