Contract doctors: PM statement only sugarcoating, strike is on

·3-min read
Contract doctors: PM statement only sugarcoating, strike is on
Contract doctors: PM statement only sugarcoating, strike is on
  • UPDATED 4.10PM | Added Hartal Doktor Kontrak's guidelines for participants in the June 26 strike.

A nationwide protest by government contract doctors will go ahead as planned this Monday, said its organiser, despite Putrajaya making last-minute offers to appease them yesterday.

The group spearheading the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) movement said the solutions offered by the government in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's statement yesterday, were only "half-cooked" and only intended to keep them quiet.

"Offering us another year of contract is not a solution; it’s a sugarcoated statement to shut us up. We know well how the system works, we are not buying it. Nobody wise enough will accept it.

"Stop giving us a half-cooked solution by people who are not even in this field, or don't even know how the system works, or maybe don't even bother to think thoroughly about it because the problem is not theirs," they said in a statement posted on the movement's Facebook.

"Hartal (strike) is definitely going on," the group added.

HDK spokesperson Dr Umar Baraka said the group's survey had identified some 5,000 contract medical officers nationwide who are expected to join the walkout on June 26.

The organisers have also outlined procedures to ensure that the care of hospital patients will not be jeopardised in any way, he added.

Among others, HDK's guidelines for participants assigned to critical care departments state that they should only walk out at 11am after "pass-over" or transfer of duties to the permanent doctor on duty.

Contract medical officers at other smaller health facilities with limited personnel are encouraged to show their solidarity via videos posted on social media at 11am.

Speaking at an online press conference, Umar stressed that the government's response to their demands was inadequate, with no offers made for permanent positions.

Yesterday, Muhyiddin announced that the government has agreed to provide contract medical officers, dentists and pharmacists career path opportunities at par with their permanent colleagues.

The cabinet had also decided to allow contract officers other benefits such as fully paid study leave, he added.

However, the statement did not address the group's main demand, which is to get permanent positions for all government contract doctors.

The government instead offered to extend their contract to a maximum of four years.

Commenting on the offer to further their studies, Dr Khairul Fahmi Razali said the current batch of contract medical officers would still face difficulties to meet requirements for sponsorship to specialise in a field of study as they were mostly stationed at Covid-19 centres.

"We must struggle to compete for an offer to further our studies, not only among ourselves but also with our seniors who have more experience and exposure in various departments," he added.

While noting that the government could face a challenge to absorb all 23,000 contract medical officers into permanent positions, Khairul said the group ultimately wished to be included in discussions on an issue that has affected their profession and the future of the healthcare system.

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