There has been a surge of online movements lately, supporting various causes but the one that stood out the most, especially, in the midst of the pandemic, is the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (Contact Doctor’s Strike) movement. This movement battles the years-long problem faced by contract doctors in the Malaysian public healthcare system, namely, the poorer employment terms offered to them than to their predecessors.
This revolt involves more than 20,000 Malaysian doctors who had been offered only contractual positions by the government under a system introduced back in 2016. At that time, contract doctors were introduced as a stop-gap solution to the government’s inability to offer permanent positions continuously. This independent group of doctors would stage a walkout on 26th July if their grouses are not addressed by the government.
Following this, the association representing government doctors in Malaysia, MMA Schomos have launched a social media campaign requesting all Malaysians to wear black for a “Black Monday” protest in mid-July in solidarity with the doctors.
In light of this movement and the stress due to the ongoing pandemic, the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group have stated that doctors are giving 24-hour notices. The reasons for this, are mainly burnout and the frustration at the lack of career opportunities for these doctors.
A post on Hartal Doktor Kontrak’s Twitter account made its rounds over the past few days. The caption reads, “Doctors are resigning with 24 hours’ notice. Simply too tired and can’t take it anymore.”
The post aforementioned consisted of a photo of a roster that revealed that a staff member has resigned. The name of the medical facility was concealed as of now.
— HartalDoktorKontrak (@HKontrak) July 18, 2021
Apart from that, another photo went viral following this issue. Now, this was a photo of a resignation letter from a Grade UD41 contract officer attached to the emergency and trauma department at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, in Klang.
According to the 24-hour notice, the reason for the doctor’s resignation was to look for opportunities in the private sector and to further their studies.
We are running out of time. Doctors are leaving. But they are silent and covering things up. https://t.co/SZZ0hZ2HxH
— HartalDoktorKontrak (@HKontrak) July 19, 2021
Both posts received equal sympathy from netizens with many urging the government to solve this issue. Currently, the contract system limits medical officers to a maximum service tenure of 5 years in the public sector. After that, these contract doctors would have to move into the private sector or take up specialist training either locally or overseas, at their own expense. This is distressing, particularly for the doctors who are deep in education debts and have a lack of funding for their education.
Let’s do a quick comparison to the medical system in the United Kingdom in terms of training provided to junior doctors.
In the United Kingdom, post-completing the MRCP or MRCS with 3 years of experience or more, junior doctors would get trained under the National Health Service (NHS). However, in Malaysia that is not the case. Every single specialisation training post-completing medical examinations would have to be borne by the contract doctors. This comparison is purely done to depict the inequalities faced by our fellow contract doctors.
Below is a timeline illustrating the medical system in the UK:
Nevertheless, it is indeed distressing to find out that contract doctors are being treated unfairly and poorly in the midst of the pandemic. Hopefully, the government would take this issue seriously and subsequently, cultivate a good work culture within the medical sector.
Source: Free Malaysia Today