Report: Contract doctors group threatens major strike, mass resignation

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — A group of contract medical officers (MO) with the Ministry of Health that involves around 8,000 doctors has threatened mass resignation and a nationwide strike beginning next week.

According to a report by The Star, this group of doctors associated themselves with an online account named “Mogok Doktor Malaysia” (Malaysian Doctors Strike) that has since emerged on social media.

The organisers said they have asked doctors to take emergency or medical leave on April 3-5 as a sign of protest, adding that they do not encourage demonstrations or flashmobs, while warning of potential mass resignations on April 1.

A spokesperson from the group who declined to be named told the English daily that they decided to proceed with the strike peacefully by taking emergency leave or medical leave “because demonstrations or walkouts will cause harm”.

“We have confirmed that an estimated 8,000 out of some 20,000 contract medical officers will participate in this strike or mass resignation event.

“(Some) 3,000 contract MOs will resign on April 1, while the rest will not be present to work from April 3-5,” the representative told The Star.

The group demanded the Ministry of Health to absorb all contract MOs into permanent positions without any conditions or interviews; provide basic salary increments, higher on-call rates; come up with a resolution to the shortage of specialists, MOs, and house officers; and prepare an automatic reduction in the compulsory service term for medical officers to three years.

Among others, it also called for a reduction in on-call and work hours for MOs and house officers, while on-call hours should not exceed six times a month, and working hours need to be capped at 60 hours a week.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told the news outlet that he was only aware of the alleged strike through social media.

He added that a strike or mass resignation is not the best way to solve issues in the medical field.

“Generally, when a strike is organised, it is meant to send a specific message to the relevant parties.

“However, this has to be carefully thought through because health is a critical service — it involves lives and the wellbeing of the people,” he was quoted saying.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the government is taking the issues faced by MOs seriously and have continuously responded and acted on the issues raised and requested by the healthcare workers.

“Among them are the permanent posting, specialist training sponsorship or further training, time-based promotions, opportunities for promotion to special grade, and establishing the UD56 grade for specialists and others. Other health schemes were also taken into account and improved.

“I believe the government from time to time will ensure that all problems and requests are looked into in line with current issues, and are given the right solution based on the country’s economic capabilities,” he was reported saying.