STAR ON-LINE Wednesday 30 September 2020
GEORGE TOWN: The contract extension for medical officers announced by the government is something to cheer, but it’s not the solution in the long run, says the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM).
In a statement, its president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh (pic) said the extension was good but would not serve medical services well over the long term.
He said it could harm the future of the country’s medical service and cause the country to depend on foreign specialists.
“If we follow this path, in 10 years, we will have a lack of specialists in the government and in the universities who can become professors to teach new medical students,” he said.
Dr Kuljit said the government must make an effort to be more proactive in creating more posts in the government medical service as it was a critical sector.
Giving medical officers contract jobs would not benefit them because doctors needed a lot of training to become specialists, he said.
“For example, the current specialist doctors in the private sector were all trained by the Health Ministry over a period and were not on contract payroll.
“We were permanent staff.
“After medical officers work for the government for many years with permanent contracts, they feel confident, and once they go to the private sector, which is a good thing, they would have been trained well for a good period,” he said.
He added that giving contract deals to the current crop of medical officers meant they would not know if their contracts would be renewed or not.
Many might leave as there was no career pathway in their jobs as medical officers in the government, he said.
“The healthcare service in the government cannot be compared to other departments where skills can be outsourced. Healthcare needs a human touch.
“It needs a long period before medical officers can be trained as specialists and be competent,” he said, adding that medical officers on contract could not continue their master’s degree education.
He said if the government continued down this path, it would be disastrous for the country in 10 years as there would be very few competent specialists left.
“We are not challenging the ministry. In fact, doctors in the private and government sectors are working in harmony with each other.
“Our view is that the government must put all its medical officers on permanent contracts as it is a critical and important element in the country’s healthcare,” he said.
On Monday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba announced that the contracts for over 2,000 government doctors, dentists and pharmacists would be extended for another six months with a budget of RM81mil.