malaysia

Contract doctors judged on merit, not government scholarship, MOH says

Dr Noor Hisham confirmed that permanent positions for graduating house officers were not guaranteed. ― Malay Mail picDr Noor Hisham confirmed that permanent positions for graduating house officers were not guaranteed. ― Malay Mail picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Permanent positions will be offered to contract house officers depending on their performance rather than any government scholarship they may or may not have received, the Health Ministry said today.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed that the government started the first intake of contract housemanship last December 5, with Public Service Department (PSD) scholars among the graduate doctors on contract as no permanent positions were offered at all.

“Based on merits, not based on scholarships,” Dr Noor Hisham told Malay Mail Online, when asked if PSD scholars will be prioritised for permanent positions given that they are bonded to the government.

“Bond still the same and when they are absorbed to permanent post, their service from Dec 5 will be taken into permanent service too,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham also confirmed that permanent positions for graduating house officers were not guaranteed.

“If you are competent and good, then no worries. Those non-performers and MIA [missing in action] should be worried as it’s based on merits. For this, anywhere you go it’s the same — public or private.

“Who wants to employ incompetent and missing in action doctors?” the Health DG said.

Dr Pagalavan Letchumanan, a consultant physician and rheumatologist, said he was made to understand that 1,300 contract housemanship placements were given out, including for PSD scholars, after the last Public Services Commission of Malaysia interview in October 2016.

“There is no guarantee that you will be continued to be employed just because you are a PSD scholar! This comes as a surprise even to me as the scholarship contract specifically says that you will be bonded with the government for 10 years,” Dr Pagalavan posted on his bloglast November.

“What happens if the scholar is not able to get a permanent job with the government? Does he need to pay his bond? An interesting question,” he added.

Dr Pagalavan told Malay Mail Online that a PSD scholar had told him that he was given a contract post and was informed that the government bond was between the scholar and PSD, and had nothing to do with the Health Ministry.

Among the criteria listed on the house officer’s contract for the offer of a permanent position, “depending on the availability of positions”, were completion of one’s housemanship, a good track record and a recommendation from the head of department.

The copy of the contract that Dr Pagalavan posted on his blog also stated that the government could terminate the contract at any time if the house officer’s performance was not satisfactory and that a 30-day notice, or one month’s basic salary, would be given.

“Somehow, I feel this will remove all the dead wood graduates from the system. However, I am also worried about lack of transparency in making such [a] selection,” Dr Pagalavan said, adding that a committee should be formed to ensure that such decisions were fair.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr John Chew claimed that before the implementation of the contract housemanship system, 20 per cent of doctors holding such posts were not performing.

“So the new system will be better,” Dr Chew told Malay Mail Online.

“For most of us, employment and work are more important. Most people are happy that they have started work”.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam reportedly said last October that offering contract housemanship would help about 2,600 graduate doctors on the waiting list every year, saying that they could wait for up to a year because there were not enough permanent positions.

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