The government has decided to offer a two-year extension of service to contract healthcare employees and fully sponsored study leave to pursue specialization.

"As an immediate solution, the agreed that all contracted medical officers, dentists, and pharmacists be offered two-year contract term after they conclude their mandatory service. This is to ensure continuity of service.

"The cabinet has also agreed to extend the contracts for a maximum of years to medical officers and dental officers who have been accepted for specialist studies in their first two-year contract service. This is to ensure they can complete their specialist studies," The Star quoted Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin saying in a statement.

The premier's announcement comes amid grievances voiced by junior doctors who allege that the current contract system in the civil service has been unfair to them, and denied them career progression. In fact, contract government doctors had planned to stage a nationwide strike on July 26 to protest against their treatment.

In noting that the contract officers' perks, including the offer of fully paid study leave are on par with permanent officers, Muhydiddin understands the demand of contract officers and acknowledges their contribution in giving people the best healthcare, during the pandemic.

He had ordered the Health Ministry and other relevant agencies to come up with a more detailed and comprehensive short-term, medium-term, as well as long-term plans to remedy the situation, he added.

The contract system was introduced in December 2016 to trim the size of the nation's civil service.

Junior doctors had complained that the system hinders their career progression as their five-year-contract does not last long enough for them to complete their specialist training that may take between five to 10 years.

Besides, the contract doctors could also not enrol in Masters' programmes in local universities, as such courses are limited to doctors with permanent posts.

Source: The Star
Photo source: Astro Awani