KUCHING, Apr 14: Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen has urged the Ministry of Health (MoH) to prioritise Sarawakians when offering positions or postings to Sarawak so to address not only the urgent but also long-term needs for doctors in the vast state, especially in the rural areas.
Over the years, he noted that many doctors from Peninsula Malaysia have served the state to the best of their abilities and helped fill up the need for doctors here.
“We are highly appreciative of all their contributions and service to the state.
“However in most cases, the arrangements were not permanent and they were eventually transferred back to their respective home states after their compulsory service or due to different valid reasons including wanting to be close to their family.
“So in that case, for them to fill up the gap right now may not really address the long-term need for doctors in Sarawak,” he highlighted in a statement today.
In welcoming MoH’s latest move in awarding permanent post to 102 medical officers (MOs) from the May 2017 cohort to be posted in Sarawak, Yii also questioned how many Sarawakians will be offered with the permanent post.
He disclosed that based on a circular by MoH’s Human Resources Division dated April 9, slightly over a quarter or 28 of the 100 MOs have declined the government’s offer of a permanent post, while 70 accepted it and two quit.
“All these permanent MOs will be posted to Sarawak effective April 15 on the basis of importance of service.
“While there may be understandable reasoning behind those who rejected the offer, but I urge the Ministry to prioritise Sarawakians when making the new offers especially if they are to eventually be posted in Sarawak,” he reiterated.
Yii pointed out that there were still many Sarawakian doctors serving in the state who have yet to be offered a permanent posting.
“Sarawakians young MOs may understand the culture, traditions and even the local language better and may adapt better to the different environment especially in the rural areas.
“That is why I urge the Ministry to prioritise Sarawakians when offering positions or postings to Sarawak as they are the ones that will likely stay in the state and serve for long term.
“This will address the issue of lack of doctors on a long-term basis and reduce the turnover of doctors due to transfers which may also be an inconvenience to these doctors themselves especially those with families,” he said.
On top of that, Yii also believed that the government should be fair and allow these MOs to receive equitable remuneration and similar grade as previous permanent MOs.
Currently, he informed that the permanent posting offered to this batch was only at UD41 civil service grade instead of the higher UD44 normally awarded for permanent MOs.
“UD41 MOs in general earn about RM8,000 less annually than UD44 officers, even though they do the same job, having similar workload and responsibilities.
“The core issue that the Ministry need to address is actually the ‘intake’ criteria or criteria of selection when it comes to choosing who gets the permanent position and who gets their contracts continued,” he suggested.
Yii added that the selection process should be more transparent to not only ensure greater certainty but also removed any ‘perception’ of favoritism, bias or even discrimination.
“If the criteria is more transparent and ‘certain’, then the junior doctors can be better prepared and know for certain what they need to work for in order to achieve their target in obtaining a permanent posting.
“This may resolve alot of the uneasiness and feeling of being under-appreciated that they are feeling now,” he said.
With many of junior doctors and MOs being deployed to also serve and tackle the current Covid-19 outbreak, Yii believed that the government should work to resolve these contract issues with not just among doctors, but also other healthcare workers as a sign of appreciation for all their sacrifices and contributions.—DayakDaily