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Health Ministry says losing more medical specialists each year

PUTRAJAYA, January 10 — The number of medical specialists resigning from the government hospitals has increased annually due to the public-private sector income disparity.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said 170 government medical specialists resigned last year, an increase from 158 the previous year.

“Most of those who resigned were medical specialists of Grade UD54 and above, who have a lot of experience and are highly skilled. It is a big loss for us,” he told a press conference, here, today.

Although it was quite difficult for the ministry to match the salaries offered to medical specialists in the private sector, Dr Subramaniam said the government tried to narrow the gap by introducing flexible working hours as announced in the 2018 Budget.

Beginning Jan 1, medical specialists at government hospitals were given a leeway of one day a week from their official working hours to supplement their income through the three options listed by the ministry, he said.

The options are conducting industry-sponsored medical research through Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), lecturing for medical students at public or private higher education institutions, or working in the private sector that one day, taking into account certain conditions including insurance cost.

Apart from raising the income of government medical specialists, the implementation of flexible working hours is also expected to increase the number of researchers in medicine, to encourage the transfer of knowledge to medical students and to increase their motivation.

​​​​Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was also working at producing more medical specialists through parallel programmes and post-graduate medical programmes at the public universities.

“As of Dec 31, a total of 950 medical officers participating in the specialist training via the parallel programmes had registered with the Medical Development Division according to their expertise,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said currently, there were 4,460 medical specialists serving with the ministry, with several subspecialties such as cardiology, neurosurgery and nephrology experiencing shortage of specialists.

He said each year, the ministry produced about 1,000 medical specialists in over 30 subspecialties who replaced those who retired or resigned, and to meet the shortage of lecturers at the higher education institutions. — Bernama