The group of contract doctors planning a walk-out at the end of the month if the government does not respond to their requests has sought to assure that the move will not jeopardise the health of patients at their hospitals.
A representative of the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” movement, Dr Fauzi Rahim, said arrangements had been made with senior doctors, specialists, consultants and permanent doctors to allow the hartal or strike to take place without affecting their patients.
“Many specialists are able to accept a strike,” he said. “They have encouraged us to go for it, saying they will cover for us.
“The hospital structures will not be 100% affected, but the medical officers will still feel the slowdown in their facilities,” he said at a virtual press conference today.
He also reiterated that a strike would be the last resort after the second phase of action, involving discussions with the outpatient departments and hospital directors.
The movement’s spokesman Dr Mustapa Kamal A Aziz, meanwhile, said they would do their best not to jeopardise the healthcare system.
When asked if they would be held responsible if Covid-19 patients die as a result of their walk-out, Kamal said they had tried their best not to mobilise contract medical officers from Covid-19 hospitals unless arrangements could be made.
“We understand that the pandemic is an emergency. We do not want to endanger the patients,” he added.
He also said that the majority of contract doctors supported the idea of a strike.
He said the government would have to face continued walk-outs by contract doctors if no solution is given.
“This is not about us but about the future of the healthcare system,” he added.
“The waiting time for patients now is six hours – imagine if every doctor left the public healthcare sector to return to the private sector in the next 10 to 20 years.”
Mustapa also said they had a legal team ready in case any of the group’s members were made subject to disciplinary action by the authorities.