Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has made a passionate appeal to contract doctors and health workers ahead of a planned walkout organised by a group of them at several hospitals tomorrow in order to press for permanent positions.
Noor Hisham reminded them of their professional oath, saying any move to disrupt services would undermine the principle of “primum non nocere” or doing no harm.
“Remember the oath we took sincerely and be there for your patients at the time when they and country need you the most. We are the last bastion of defence to make a difference to our patients and every life matters,” he said in a Facebook post this evening.
He also urged junior doctors not to join the walkout.
“Remember, many lives are on the line and the demonstration could affect their lives and even your career.”
Yesterday, a spokesman for the so-called Hartal Doktor Kontrak scoffed at Putrajaya’s offer of a short-term remedy pending a comprehensive solution to their position as contract staff, an arrangement implemented in 2016 by then-prime minister Najib Razak citing constraints on permanent positions.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced on Friday a two-year extension of contract for medical officers, dentists and pharmacists once they have completed their compulsory service, as well as up to four years’ extension for those accepted for specialisation in their fields.
The government also announced the improvement of benefits such as special leave and assistance and monetary allowances.
But the spokesman for the contract doctors, Dr Umar Barakah, said there was nothing in black and white, adding that the walkout would proceed despite the offer.
He also said that some 4,000 doctors were expected to join the walkout at 11am tomorrow while assuring no disruption to healthcare.
“We want to show that we are many in number, and without us, the healthcare system will be paralysed,” he said, adding that those working in key areas might show their solidarity without leaving their stations.
Noor Hisham said the temporary solution was announced pending an amendment to the Pensions Act to facilitate contributions under the Employees Provident Fund.
“I wish to remind all that patients’ safety is our priority,” he added.