I am sad to say that through my past eight-year experience in the public health sector, the government has shown that it does not appreciate doctors, particularly specialists.
The government, in facts indirectly 'encourages' these doctor to migrate to the private sector. I make this conclusion based on the following facts:
- Once you have acquired specialist qualification after years of post-graduate training, the government only rewards you with two a two-jump increment up the salary scale amounting to RM120 per month.
- The only way for government doctors to get a promotion now is to take the PTK examination which tests their knowledge not on medicine or their daily clinical work but on totally unrelated administrative matters.
The government has decided that it is more important for us to know 'how to apply for leave' for 'how many types of leave there are in the civil service' rather than proving our worth through professional specialist exams.
The upgrading of our clinical skills and knowledge is, it seems, not that important. But clinical experience is most important for a would-be specialist and it is a joke that this is not a factor in promotion exams for doctors.
- The government recently approved a rate of RM40 per hour for private sector doctors working as locums in public hospitals. The government pays it own doctors RM30 an hour. Isn't the government indirectly encouraging its doctors to join the private sector?
- Not to mention the pathetic rate for allowances given to government doctors. The rate is RM75 for every 16 hours on weekdays (RM4.69 per hour) and RM113 for every 24 hours on weekends or public holidays (RM4.71 per hour).
A fast-food restaurant worker probably gets more allowance than us. This rate is applicable to specialist, sub-specialists and senior consultants.
It is not my intention to criticise the government. We decided to stay in public sector because we have a passion for our speciality and profession. We would like to pursue knowledge in our field. We also like to treat patients who cannot afford to pay the high rate of private medical treatment.
The public hospital is their only hope of getting the reasonable medical care including specialist medical care.
So never mind of all the hassle of getting a promotion. It is even acceptable if the government decides that they cannot pay us handsomely as the private sector because of lack of funds.
But it is totally unacceptable and even insulting to public service doctors for the government to offer private sector doctors a higher rate of RM40 per hour if they take-up the government's offer to work part-time in government hospitals.
It is indeed disappointing that the government has decided to take care of private doctors by paying them a higher rate rather than looking into the welfare of the of their own public service doctors.
The government should know that public doctors form the backbone of the public health system in this country - not the private sector doctors. Just doubling the out-of-hours allowance of government doctors would make the majority of us happy besides spurring us to work harder.
I just can't understand why the government has decided to offer private practice doctors a higher rate. I am sure we public service doctors have proven to be loyal government servants willing enough to stay on in the service. How about some recognition?