MMA: New Year 2010 Call to Action
Dear medical colleagues,
the closure of the year 2009 and the beginning of the new year 2010 should normally be an auspicious occasion to relish and look forwards to.
However, as most of you might already know, a shadow of uncertainty has suddenly been thrust over us with the unprecedented and uncalled for opening of so-called 1Malaysia clinics, to be manned by medical assistants and or nurses.
This has been interpreted by many GPs as an affront and encroachment into their professional practice. Many worry that this may indeed be the start of a slippery slope down where more and more of our medical services might be task-shifted over to lesser qualified personnel for whatever the reason, political or economic.
As the body representing most of the doctors in the country, the MMA clearly understands this predicament. We have already more than once questioned the legality of such a practice and highlighted our concerns and our opposition towards this policy in the mass media as well as directly to the MOH officials, but it appears that these clinics will be opened regardless.
Although the initial impact may be small, the possibility of extension of such clinics may become huge, and which will not only undermine the professionalism and livelihood of doctors, but also possibly the ultimate health of our citizens, our patients especially the less endowed.
So what can doctors do? What should we do?
I have been receiving scores of sms's and emails expressing grave concerns and anger, and calling for more action, while a few others have also cautioned for more dialogue with MOH officials, including a meeting with the PM and the minister.
I have been trying to have an urgent meeting with the Minister of health to see if we can help modify the concept of these clinics which in our uncompromising perspective should only be run by doctors.
The government must see the wisdom of our opposition and not resort to bulldozing its misguided approach to alienate the GPs and the doctors some more. We expect some appointment in early January 2010.
But we also understand that the so-called 1M clinics will be officially inaugurated by the PM on 7 Jan 2010. So, what do we do in the meantime?
I have discussed with some and have instructed all branch chairmen and PPS chairmen to get a collective dialogue/agreement with members on the ground, with regards to the possibility of some protest actions. Among some of these suggestions are the following which I am now forwarding to you all for consideration.
1. Collect as many signatures and write to all your MPs and State Assemblymen as possible to alert them as to the very strong opposition of us doctors to such a move of 1Malaysia clinics to be manned by MAs and nurses alone, doctors must be deployed at the minimum, or else incorporate/enlist nearby GPs to help out.
2. While we do not want to disrupt our clinic practices, there has been a circulating suggestion that a normative day(s) and time(hours?) be designated to stage a symbolic walkout of our practice to demonstrate our solidarity at opposing this move. Of course medical emergencies will have to be redirected to public hospitals or seen to if urgently required to. In effect this is a nationwide strike call to be effected by all GPs and private practitioners, to highlight our concern and unhappiness.
3. Simultaneous with the opening of these 1M clinics, GPs nationwide may choose to stage peaceful demonstrations and placard/banner postings to protest such a move, at designated state branches, but this must be done with no intention to disrupt public transport or movement. Above all such protest rallies must be carried out peacefully and without encumbering the public or their safety.
4. In the event that all these fail to effect any positive results, then further actions will be considered by a special committee to be convened during our coming Council meeting on 10 Jan 2009.
I hope all these actions will meet with your consideration. Please respond to me soonest possible via email or sms. Above all, please maintain calm and peace, despite your understandable disquiet.
Despite all that, have a Meaningful and hopefully fruitful New Year 2010!