Upgrading of doctors’ contracts needs clarification

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said he welcomes the move by the Health Ministry to streamline the service grade for contract medical officers from grade UD41 to UD43, however, the implementation needs to be made clearer.

There are pertinent questions that need to be answered by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba to ensure that it is not merely an announcement, and that tangible actions and implementations will be done for the sake of the young healthcare workers, he said.

“First and foremost, such decision was already made under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in November last year, yet it was slow to be implemented under the current government.

“Therefore, in order for it to not be just a mere announcement, the minister must clarify it to be transparent,” he told New Sarawak Tribune today. 

He said that the contract workers must be aware of when the upgrade from UD41 to UD43 would start.

“Will this involve all those under the UD41 contract who have finished their housemanship? If not, how many are involved? And how much will this cost and has it already been allocated in this year’s 2021 Budget?” asked Dr Yii.

On top of that, he believed that the government should take an extra step to allow these contract workers to have similar access to perks enjoyed by permanent medical officers as their responsibilities, workloads and risks are the same.

“It is only a policy decision that can be made on a ministry level which includes access for them to get special leave such as hazard leave, study leave, etc,” he said.

Dr Yii said the contract workers should also be allowed to apply for the ‘Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan’ programme to further their studies — master’s and specialist level — in local universities so that this can also help to address the lack of specialists in the country.

“The best way to appreciate our medical frontliners, especially for their services to our country during this pandemic is to invest in them and give them better security of tenure and of course, a chance for them to further specialise in their desired master’s programme.

“This is, of course, in line with the efforts of the government and hospitals to produce more specialists to address the lack of needed specialists nationwide and also to improve the quality of healthcare for our patients,” he said.