Is this not sheer exploitation, asks Patriot on contract doctors
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) is urging the government to recognise the work and commitment of contract doctors by providing honourable and motivating conditions of service.
In a statement today, Patriot president Mohd Arshad Raji (above) asked if the Health Ministry is blind to the fact that those contract doctors are doing their best to save precious lives despite the inherent risks to their own safety and wellbeing.
“Is the work and commitment put in by these our frontline heroes and heroines not worthy to be given the honour and motivation deserving for their onward progress and continued service to the nation?
“If this is not sheer exploitation then what is it?” asked Arshad.
The apolitical group’s statement was released in support of the #HartalDoktorKontrak movement who are pressuring the government to address the plight of contract doctors.
The contract doctors, who this morning carried out mass walkouts in a nationwide strike to demand job security and better career opportunities, have rejected the recent last-minute concessions made by Putrajaya on July 23 and described it as a “half-cooked” solution to their woes.
The proposed measures include improved benefits, fully paid study leave to specialise in their field and a contract extension of up to four years, as opposed to the permanent positions demanded by the group.
Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the extension is meant to provide the government time to make permanent placements possible.
Under the current system, contract doctors lack job security following the completion of their five-year training, due to Putrajaya's current lack of budgetary means to offer permanent placements.
Arshad claimed that in spite of the Health Ministry’s budget deficits, the monthly salaries of the cabinet - which he claimed to run into multi-millions - continues to take a huge chunk of the country’s wealth.
“The ministry itself has one minister and two deputies. Yet our young and aspiring doctors who are the very backbone of the nation’s healthcare are being treated without honour and motivation.
“This is acrimonious in the interest of the larger context of building our beloved nation.
“If ministers and deputy ministers are handsomely paid for work that the public does not see and feel, why are these young doctors who are perpetually under pressure to save lives being paid a pittance and dumped into the chute of uncertainty?” said the Patriot president.
He reiterated Patriot’s belief that the country’s contract doctors must be granted permanent employment and career pathways to excel in the interest of the nation.
“The contract doctors have legitimate, honourable, going concerns and Patriot stands by them in their hour of crucial need and challenges faced.
“While some may plead that doctors must remember their oath of primum non nocere (first, do no harm) to patients, Patriot reminds the government and the Health Ministry in particular of its obligation to inspire, nurture and safeguard Malaysia’s human capital - our young doctors,” said Arshad.
In light of today's strike, Noor Hisham has reiterated the need for contract doctors to prioritise the safety of patients and to remember their oath.
Additionally, the Health Ministry issued a subtle warning yesterday cautioning government doctors against participating in "illegal gatherings".