With group again threatening major contract doctors’ walkout next month, Health D-G reiterates strikes not best solution

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — With healthcare workers rumoured to be gearing up for another unannounced strike nationwide next month, the Health Ministry reiterated today that said move is not the best solution and implored the aggrieved parties to reconsider instead.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said generally, a planned strike is organised to send a specific message to the relevant parties but noted the matter should be deliberated carefully since the healthcare service is a critical service.

For the time being, he also said the ministry has no further information on the purported strike except through recent social media postings.

“The healthcare service in this country must continue to be regarded as a critical sector including healthcare workers themselves.

“This is because of the complexity, challenges and risks faced by healthcare workers in their line of duty and responsibility.

“However, I would like to stress again that strikes are not the best solution and any problems that arise should be dealt with by the involvement of all in a prudent manner,” he said in a statement here.

Recently, a group identifying themselves as contract doctors currently serving with the ministry have threatened mass resignations and a nationwide ‘strike’ next month that could involve some 8,000 contract doctors.

An account known as “Mogok Doktor Malaysia” (Malaysian Doctors on Strike) has since emerged on social media.

According to The Star news outlet, the group’s demands include the absorption of all contract MOs into permanent positions without any conditions or interviews; increment of basic salary and on-call rate; and resolution for the shortage of specialists, MO and house officers.

They also want the compulsory service term for medical officers to be reduced automatically to three years without application; reduce on-call and work hours for MOs and house officers; and on-call hours should not exceed six times a month and work hours not more than 60 hours a week.

Unlike a traditional strike, a spokesman was quoted as saying that doctors have been asked to take emergency or medical leave on April 3 to April 5 as a sign of protest, adding that they do not encourage demonstrations or flash mobs, although they also warned of potential mass resignations on April 1.

Dr Noor Hisham said the government has from time to time responded to and acted on the issues raised and the requests of healthcare workers, further assuring all grievances will be looked into, and subsequently, resolved based on the country’s economic capabilities.

“Among them are permanent postings, specialist training sponsorship or additional training, time-based promotions, opportunities for promotion to a special grade and establishing the UD56 grade for specialists and others,” he said.

He said the government will continue to prioritise health services as indicated in Budget 2023, which saw the ministry receiving the second-largest federal government allocation of RM36.3 billion, a jump from last year’s RM32.4 billion.